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DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: 
THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC NORMS 



By 
THOMAS JAY NISLEY 



A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL 

OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT 

OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF 

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY 

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 

2002 






Copyright 2002 

by 

Thomas Jay Nisley 



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 

This study is a product of many years of classroom work, beginning at the 
undergraduate level, and three years of intense research and writing. I thank all my 
professors who helped shape my understanding of politics and world affairs. Thanks go to 
my dissertation committee who helped guide me in the dissertation process. I extend a 
particular heartfelt thanks to my committee chair, Dr. M. Leann Brown, and to Dr. Ido 
Oren for their thoughtful attention, comments, and suggestions for each of the draft 
chapters. 

I thank the Department of Political Science, which gave me the opportunity to 
work as a teaching assistant while at the University of Florida. Acknowledgment and 
appreciation go to the College of Liberal Arts, Gibson Dissertation Fellowship, for funding 
a phase of the dissertation project. Acknowledgment goes to the U.S. Federal 
government's student loan program. Without such a program, I never would have 
financed my first year of study at the University of Florida. 

Lifelong thanks go to my father, Kermit, and my mother, Joanne, whose 
encouragement and support over the many years have helped me to achieve what I have. 
Finally, the deepest thanks go to my wife, Clara, for her love and understanding 
throughout the entire process. 



111 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

£age 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii 

ABSTRACT vi 

CHAPTERS 

1 FOREIGN POLICY AND SOCIETAL CHANGE 1 

2 THEORY OF FOREIGN POLICY AND DEMOCRACY PROMOTION .... 12 

Introduction 12 

Theoretical Approach 12 

Domestic Norms in Foreign Policy 18 

Explanations for U.S. Efforts to Promote Democracy and Human Rights 25 

Domestic Theories of Foreign Policy 33 

Public Opinion and Foreign Policy 36 

Causal Hypothesis 41 

3 NORMS AND THE GROWTH OF TOLERANCE 45 

Introduction 45 

Social Sciences, Norms and Explanation 46 

Norms and a State's Identity 51 

American Identity 54 

Changing American Identity 56 

Social Movements and Identity Change 63 

Multicultural and Tolerant America 71 

Conclusion 89 

4 HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY 91 

Introduction 91 

Presidential Rhetoric 92 

Human Rights in U.S. Foreign Policy 97 

Uncertain Support 1945-1953 98 

Overt Neglect 1953-1976 101 



IV 



Support and Promotion 1977-2000 107 

Quantitative Analyses of U.S. Support for Human Rights Ill 

Conclusion 115 

5 CONGRESS AND THE TRANSMISSION OF NORMS TO FOREIGN POLICY 

118 

Introduction 118 

Constitutional Power and Foreign Policy 119 

The Two Presidencies 122 

Two Presidencies: Fact or Artifact 124 

A Resurgent Congress 127 

Constituent Influence on Congress 130 

Congressional Influence 133 

Congress, Human Rights and Democracy Promotion 136 

Conclusion 152 

6 CONGRESS AND FOREIGN POLICY: CONTRA AID AND SOUTH 

AFRICAN SANCTIONS 154 

Introduction 154 

Contra Aid 155 

South African Sanctions 161 

Conclusion 168 

7 SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION 170 



REFERENCES 182 

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 207 



Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School 
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the 
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy 

DEMOCRACY PROMOTION AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY: 
THE ROLE OF DOMESTIC NORMS 



By 

Thomas Jay Nisley 
August 2002 

Chairperson: Dr. M. Leann Brown 
Major Department: Political Science 

Although the United States (U.S.) has generally emphasized democracy in its 

international relations, the evidence suggests that in the post World War II era U.S. policy 

increasingly displayed a tendency to promote actively the spread of democracy globally. I 

contend that the primary source of policy change originates from changing domestic 

norms regarding political and civil rights. As the commitment to political and civil rights 

increased in the domestic arena, the commitment to political and civil rights internationally 

increased. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other accomplishments of the Civil 

Rights Movement, U.S. foreign policy decision makers cared little for regime type in their 

policy orientations. After the social upheavals of 1960s, I have found a greater sensitivity 

in U.S. policy toward democracy promotion. The early 1970s is a transition period in the 



VI 



prevailing norms regarding civil and political rights in the United States and U.S. foreign 
policy toward the promotion of human rights and democracy. The changes in norms led 
to a change in identity. In the early 1970s, we find the basic U.S. identity shifting from a 
Euro- American identity to a multicultural identity. 

Theoretically my analysis originates from a constructivist approach to the study of 
world politics. The constructivist approach emphasizes the impact of ideas, rather than 
material considerations. This research specifically analyzes the changing normative 
structure in the United States and the concurrent change in identity. This study links these 
transformations to changes in foreign policy. The actions of the U.S. Congress regarding 
human rights and democracy promotion are specifically analyzed. Congress represents the 
link between domestic norms and foreign policy orientations. 

The findings suggest that we must consider domestic level factors in our 
explanations of international behavior and foreign policy. Particularly for the United 
States, a human rights agenda and a policy of democracy promotion are associated with 
domestic societal changes regarding political and civil rights and a general growth in 
tolerance. 



vu 



CHAPTER 1 
FOREIGN POLICY AND SOCIETAL CHANGE 



This study seeks to explain the sources of democracy promotion in U.S. foreign 
policy. Although the United States has generally emphasized democracy in its 
international relations, the evidence suggests that in the post World War II era U.S. policy 
increasingly displayed a greater involvement in advancing the spread of democracy 
globally. I contend that the primary source of policy change originates from changing 
domestic norms regarding political and civil rights. As the commitment to political and 
civil rights increased in the domestic arena, the commitment to political and civil rights 
internationally increased. Before the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and other 
accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement, U.S. foreign policy decision makers cared 
little for regime type in their policy orientations. After the social upheavals of 1960s, I 
have found a greater sensitivity in U.S. policy toward democracy promotion. The early 
1970s is a transition period in the prevailing norms regarding civil and political rights in 
the United States. It is during this period that U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion 
of human rights and democracy changes. The change in norms leads to changes in 
identity. 1 In the early 1970s we find the basic U.S. ethnic/racial identity shifting from a 



identity is a multifaceted concept covering notions of the relation of the individual 
to society, politics, and general world views such as fatalism or optimism. In this study 
the change in identity is limited to that of racial/ethnic classification. 

1 



2 
Euro-American identity to a multicultural identity. The multicultural identity includes not 
only the acceptance of multiple racial and ethnic groups, but is also generally tolerant of all 
forms of diversity. How the United States sees itself impacts on how it relates to the rest 
of the world. 

This study is important in how it analyzes domestic level factors on foreign policy. 
Other works have examined the relationship between racism in the United States and U.S. 
foreign policy (Hunt 1987, DeConde 1992). These works, for the most part, have shown 
the deleterious effects of American racism in U.S. foreign relations. Recent research has 
shown how advances in civil rights are related to the level of threat the United States 
faced in the world system (Klinker and Smith 1999, Dudziak 2000). For the most part, 
these works have neglected to examine the impact of declining domestic levels of racism 
and U.S. foreign policy. 

Some detractors will decry that the view of declining prejudices and increasing 
tolerance presented in this study is pollyannaish. They will say that racism is alive and 
well in the U.S. Others will claim that U.S. foreign policy does not consider human rights 
and consistently violates human concerns for the larger "national interest." I am not at all 
suggesting that racism or discrimination no longer plagues the United States. Neither am I 
intimating that American foreign policy consistently supports democracy and human 
rights. What I do suggest is that there have been changes in the U.S. domestic norms. 
These changes have brought about an increase in respect for political and civil rights and a 
tolerance for diversity at the domestic level. Moreover, U.S. foreign policy reflects these 
changes. 



To what extent has the United States changed? As a brief illustration we need only 
to look at the United States and the actions of U.S. presidents during two different periods 
of wartime. The actions of President Woodrow Wilson during World War I and George 
W. Bush in the present "War against Terrorism" provide a study in contrast. As the 
United States mobilized for war against Germany and the Central Powers, extensive 
attacks occurred against German culture and German-Americans. German foods were 
stripped of their names. Hamburgers became liberty sandwiches. Attacks on German- 
Americans were prevalent. 

Unique forms of violence were often devised by mobs to punish those charged 
with disloyalty or pro-Germanism. For instance, in San Rafael, California, a man 
had his hair clipped in the form of a cross, after which he was tied to a tree on the 
courthouse lawn. A person of German birth in Salt Lake City was thrown into a 
bin of dough where he almost suffocated. In Pennsylvania a man was taken from a 
hotel room, "severely beaten, made to walk up and down the street with a dog 
chain around his neck, forced to kiss the flag and doused into a large watering 
trough" (Peterson and Fite 1957, 197). 

In one case, near St. Louis in 1918, a mob bound a man in an American flag before they 

lynched him (Kennedy 1980, 68). President Wilson remained mute to the attack on 

German- Americans by Americans. David Kennedy (1980, 88) relates that Wilson 

"persistently ignored pleas to speak out against attacks on German- Americans." 

The actions of President George W. Bush after the attack of September 1 1, 2001 

by Islamic extremists on the United States are in sharp contrast to the actions of Wilson. 

The first hint of retaliatory attacks on Arab- Americans or Americans of the Islamic faith 

brought a sharp and quick condemnation from the President. Standing barefoot in a tiled 

prayer alcove in the Washington Islamic Center, President Bush declared that those "who 



4 
feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don't represent the 
best of America. They represent the worst of humankind" (Lewis 2001, A5). Instead of 
fanning the flames of bigotry and hatred, Bush declared that Islam is a religion of peace 
and that the war was against terrorism, not Islam. 

Cases of violence against Muslims did occur in the weeks after the attacks of 1 1 
September. The American Islamic Council reports more than 625 complaints of violence 
and harassment against Muslims and Islamic places of worship, and gunmen murdered two 
individuals because they were Muslim or perceived as Muslim. 2 Agents of the Federal 
Bureau of Investigation were directed to investigate more than 40 potential hate crimes 
including the two homicides. Nevertheless, the cases of violence were isolated and 
usually solitary acts. The absence of any case of mob killing of Muslim Americans 
represents a positive contrast to the actions of Americans in 1917. Professor Amitai 
Etzioni of George Washington University, writing in the Christian Science Monitor , 
declared that among the "many reasons these days to be proud to be American ... is the 
concerted effort to suppress expressions of anger against the terrorists from spilling over 
to the religious group from which they hail" (Etzioni 2001, 9) 

No American leader or journalist sought to excuse the attacks on Muslim 
Americans as products of a thirst for revenge. In contrast, comments made by the 
Washington Post in response to the killings of German- Americans at the onset of the U.S. 
involvement in World War I were clearly exculpatory. Regarding the violent nationalism 



2 In Mesa, Arizona, a gunman murdered a Sikh owner of a gas station and in 
Dallas, Texas, a Pakistani Muslim was gunned down in his grocery store. 



of the time, the Washington Post declared: "In spite of the excess such as lynching, it is 
healthful and wholesome awakening in the interior of the country" (quoted in Kennedy 
1980, 68). 

Woodrow Wilson was a bigot and a racist; George W. Bush cannot be so 
considered. 3 With that understood we can explain the differing responses of these two 
men. Most apologists for historical figures with racist dispositions argue that we must 
understand these individuals in the context of their times. The societal norms of the time 
in which Wilson lived supported his world view. George W. Bush's outlook reflects the 
American society today. 

How are the domestic norms of a country reflected in its foreign policy? As I will 
argue in the next chapter, we cannot separate state-level factors from the external policy 
of a state. Individuals are shaped by the society in which they live. Norms that govern 
and shape domestic behavior influence decision makers as they direct foreign policy. 
Again we must turn to President Wilson. Wilson disliked the idea of hyphenated 
Americanisms. He viciously attacked the foreign-born as "creatures of passion, 
disloyalty, and anarchy" (quoted in Kennedy 1980, 67). In his third annual message to 
Congress, Wilson proclaimed that those "born under other flags but welcomed under 
generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America . . . have 
poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life . . . [T]he hand of 



3 Wilson did not object to the Postmaster General widening the practice of 
segregation among federal employees in 1913. "He had screened the film The Birth of a 
Nation in the White House, and had endorsed its pro-Ku Klux Klan interpretation of post- 
Civil War Reconstruction as 'history written with lightning'" (Kennedy 1980, 281). 



6 
our power should close over them at once" (quoted in Kennedy 1980, 24). Wilson viewed 
the United States as one nation with one racial/ethnic identity, that is, white, Anglo-Saxon, 
and Protestant. 4 Holding to the view that all nations should have their own state, it is 
understandable that Wilson promoted a policy of national self-determination and a break 
up of the multiethnic state of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. From the early twentieth 
century to the late twentieth century the American identity changes from a monocultural 
identity to a multicultural identity. American policy toward the break up of Yugoslavia 
did not reflect a Wilsonian view of national self-determination. Instead, policy makers 
pursued a multiethnic solution. From the Vance-Owen plan to the Dayton Accords, U.S. 
policy makers consistently aspired to develop a state composed of multiple ethnic groups 
in war ravaged Bosnia. In the summer of 2001, ethnic conflict between Albanians and 
Macedonians suggested a break up of Macedonia. The United States under the aegis of 
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) refused to support the ethnic Albanian 
claims to sovereignty and committed troops in the peaceful settlement of the ethnic 
conflict. 

In this study, the foreign policy area investigated is that of the promotion of 
democracy. Most of the literature on democracy promotion suggests it to be a long- 
standing U.S. policy. Gregory Fossedal (1989) in The Democratic Imperative argues that 
the U.S. promotes democracy abroad as an embodiment of its democratic nature. 



4 Similar sentiment of this can still be found today in the works of writers like 
Patrick Buchanan. These sentiments also exist in academia. Samuel Huntington (1997) 
calls for immigrants to accept English as the national language and commit "to the 
Principles of the American creed and the Protestant work ethic." 



7 
According to Joshua Muravchik (1992) in Exporting Democracy , a foreign policy that 
links an American identity with the cause of democracy finds deep roots in American 
history. In America's Mission. Tony Smith (1994) ties the promotion of democracy with 
U.S. security interests and traces its origins to the U.S. Civil War. Most scholars attribute 
the absence of democracy promotion to the absence of strong domestic political leadership 
or to international security factors. Domestic and societal normative changes in the 
United States are for the most part ignored in the literature on democracy promotion. 

One attempt to develop a nuanced explanation for U.S. democracy promotion and 
account for an evolution and change in policy can be found in William Robinson's (1996) 
Promoting Polyarchy. Robinson suggests that with a globalized world economy the core 
countries led by the United States can no longer use coercive measures to control the poor 
states in the periphery. To limit calls for greater economic participation in the developing 
world, the United States promotes "low intensity democracy" or polyarchy as a way to 
relieve pressure from subordinate groups for more fundamental political, social, and 
economic change. "Low intensity democracy" or polyarchy is political democracy under 
capitalism which maintains "elite minority rule and socioeconomic inequalities alongside 
formal political freedom and elections involving universal suffrage" (Robinson 1996, 356). 
Whereas most scholars view democracy promotion as a long-standing tradition in U.S. 
policy, Robinson correctly understands that it is a recent phenomenon. This study agrees 
with Robinson's contention that the U.S. promotes polyarchy. The U.S. political system 
is best characterized as a polyarchy. Therefore, it makes sense that U.S. policy makers 
would seek to promote the form of democracy that characterizes their own political 



8 
structure. Where he claims that policy change is a product of globalization and 
transnational forces, my research suggests that we must turn to domestic sources in the 
United States. 

I argue that change in U.S. norms regarding domestic political and civil rights 
translates into changes in foreign policy regarding the promotion of political and civil 
rights externally (i.e., democracy promotion). The independent variable is the domestic 
normative structure. Norms are culturally defined rules of conduct that specify what is 
appropriate and what is proper or necessary behavior within groups, organizations and 
institutions. Changes in this variable are considered permanent or at least not readily 
reversible. The intervening variables are the avenues of transmission of domestic norms to 
the policymaking apparatus. Domestic norms on foreign policy (here democracy 
promotion) affect the policy making apparatus from many sources including the polls, the 
media and interest groups. An examination of these sources is incorporated in the 
following analysis. However, this study concentrates on policy changes originating from 
the U.S. Congress as the primary indicator of change in domestic norms. The assumption 
is that the legislative branch is closest to the electorate and thus will be the first to reflect 
changes in the broader society. By examining the activities of Congress we can link 
change at the domestic level to changes in foreign policy. The dependent or outcome 
variable is democracy promotion. The conception of democracy embraced in this study is 
compatible with the conception of polyarchy. Promoting democracy encompasses the 
promotion of regular, free, and fair elections and universal suffrage, informational 
pluralism, civil liberties and human rights, functional autonomy for legislative, executive 



9 
and judicial branches, and effective power and accountability for elected officials (Dahl 
1971). 

The temporal domain of the study covers the post World War II era, 1945-2000. 
This study is composed of seven chapters. After this brief introduction, chapter 2 
provides the theoretical background for the dissertation. Theoretically my analysis 
originates from a constructivist approach to the study of world politics. The constructivist 
approach emphasizes the impact of ideas, rather than material considerations. A 
constructivist theory suggests that norms are a constitutive component of a state's 
interests. My approach differs from standard constructivism regarding where norms come 
from and how they emerge to influence world politics. The tendency among 
constructivist scholars is to suggest that states are socialized to accept new norms and 
perceptions of interests through international interactions. This study takes a state level 
view to the constructivist approach. Instead of norms being the sole product of 
international interaction, change in the domestic normative structure is offered as the 
origin of international behavior. 

In chapter 3, 1 discuss the importance of norms for the social sciences and examine 
how norms constitute identity. This leads to a discussion of changes in the normative 
structure in the United States and the changes in the American identity. Although norms 
often change gradually, the data suggest that the early 1970s mark the point at which 
domestic norms change. The context in which change occurs is through the presence of 
protest movements organized with respect to issues of political and civil rights. I use data 
fr° m the National El ections Studies and national survey groups such as Gallup to show a 



10 
change over time in the American public's attitudes toward political and civil rights. 
Also, I analyze cultural and political changes during the period. 

Beginning with a focus on the presidency, Chapter 4 examines changes in U.S. 
foreign policy toward the promotion of human rights and democracy. Through contextual 
evidence and the use of the last twenty-five years of quantitative research, I assess the 
relationship between U.S. foreign assistance and the violation of human rights by recipient 
countries. The evidence suggests that U.S. foreign policy has changed with that change 
taking place in the 1970s. This change occurs concurrently with the change in domestic 
norms that has produced a multicultural American identity identified in the previous 
chapter. 

In chapter 5, 1 flesh out the indicator variable of Congress and show how the 
change in domestic norms influences changes in foreign policy. This leads to a discussion 
of the role of constituent influence on members of Congress. More than any other branch 
of government, the Congress most accurately reflects the norms of the United States. 
With members facing reelection every two years, the House of Representatives most 
immediately reveals changes at the domestic level in the governing structure. 

Congress exerts significant power over foreign policy through legislative and 
nonlegislative tools such as public hearings. Taking a cue from the "new institutionalist" 
literature on American government, I address the mechanisms beyond the legislative 
process by which Congress can influence foreign policy. I show how the civil rights 
movement influenced members of Congress in their thinking toward foreign policy. 



11 

Finally, I confront the legislative and procedural changes that Congress has undertaken to 
incorporate the promotion of democracy and human rights into U.S. foreign policy. I 
integrate my findings on the change in domestic norms into the analysis of Congressional 
activity. 

In Chapter 6 I discuss two cases, South African sanctions and the Contra aid 
debates, where the President and Congress differed over promoting human rights and 
democracy and the Congress actually constrained presidential action. Chapter 7 of the 
dissertation summarizes my findings and draws conclusions from the study. I find a 
significant change in the domestic normative structure regarding political and civil rights 
over the duration of the period studied. U.S. foreign policy has reflected this change in 
public norms in the direction of greater concern for political and civil rights. In the next 
chapter I discuss the importance of locating an understanding of foreign policy at the 
domestic level and address the relevance of norms to foreign policy. 



CHAPTER 2 
THEORY OF FOREIGN POLICY AND DEMOCRACY PROMOTION 

Introduction 

Although the United States has generally emphasized democracy in its 
international relations, the evidence suggests that in the post World War II era U.S. policy 
increasingly emphasized good relations with democratic states and a greater involvement 
in advancing the spread of democracy globally. The primary source of policy change 
emanates from changing domestic norms regarding political and civil rights. As the 
commitment to political and civil rights increases in the domestic arena, the commitment 
to political and civil rights internationally increases. The basic puzzle of my research is to 
what extent do changes in domestic norms result in changes in foreign policy? 

In this chapter, I present my theoretical approach in understanding this question. 
The study is grounded in a constructivist perspective. I also address the relevance of 
norms in the study of foreign policy. Second, I review the literature addressing democracy 
promotion and U.S. foreign policy. Third, I discuss the importance of locating this 
analysis at the domestic level and in doing so consider the relationship of domestic norms 
to the formation of foreign policy. 

Theoretical Approach 

Theoretically my analysis originates from a constructivist approach to the study of 
world politics. The constructivist approach emphasizes the impact of ideas, rather than 

12 



13 
material considerations. Primarily, constructivism is a way of studying social relations. 

Human beings are social beings and would not be human but for social relations. Social 
relations and individual identities are mutually constitutive. Norms of behavior link 
individuals to society and society to individuals (Onuf 1998). This study defines a norm as 
a standard of behavior taken to be proper and acceptable. A norm is a principle of right 
action binding on the members of a group. In societal relations, norms guide the behavior 
of actors and set regularities of action. Society is a system made up of the interaction of 
human individuals in which "each member is both actor (having goals, ideas, attitudes, 
etc.) and object of orientation for both other actors and himself." With this assumption, 
we may understand how the system behaves based on broadly shared goals, ideas, and 
attitudes of the individuals. These goals, ideas and attitudes constitute norms of behavior. 
"The core of a society, as a system, is the patterned normative order through which life of 
a population is collectively organized" (Parsons 1966, 8-10). 

The state is the political expression of the society. From a social contract theory 
of the origins of the state, we can understand the state as a product of the society. 
Thomas Hobbes, one of the first social contract theorists, argued that individuals gave up 
some of their freedoms and agreed to be bound by the rule of the King. In return, the 
King provided order, thus removing the individual from the state of nature in which 
Hobbes described life as "nasty, brutish and short" (quoted in Coulter 1984, 35). Jean 
Jacques Rousseau's version of the social contract further connects society to the state. 
With his notion of the 'general will' Rousseau makes this connection explicit: "So long as 
several men together consider themselves to be a single body, they have but a single will, 



14 
which is concerned with their common preservation and the general well-being" 
(Rousseau 1992, 966). The norms that bind the individuals together in a single body 
shape their collective perceptions regarding the necessities for preservation and what 
constitutes the general well-being. We can understand many behaviors of the state by 
reflecting on the basic construction of a particular state's society. 

A constructivist approach to foreign policy is better understood when juxtaposed 
to its theoretical antithesis, rational-materialism. A rational-materialist theory of foreign 
policy such as Classical Realism suggests that a state be understood as a rational unitary 
actor seeking to maximize its own interests or national objectives in world politics. For 
Realism, a state's foreign policy is a response to changes in relative capabilities of other 
states. Realism contends that states do and must respond to the outside world without 
moral consideration. Realism proposes an amoral foreign policy with material power 
being the immediate concern (Morgenthau 1985). A rationalist-materialist approach can 
explain many state behaviors. However, we cannot account some aspects of state 
behavior for based on material interests. Conversely, I do not claim that we can explain all 
state behaviors through an examination of norms and state identities. Nevertheless, a 
focus on norms best accounts some behaviors such as the promotion of democracy for 
through a constructivist approach. A theory of foreign policy from a constructivist 
approach posits that a state's national interests derive from a collective understanding 
within a state and an intersubjective understanding among states, rather than an 
understanding derived from the distribution of material capabilities. A state's interest is 
closely tied with its identity and the societal norms shape that identity. Whereas Realism 



15 
assumes that all actors in global politics have one meaningful identity, that of a self- 
interested actor, "constructivism treats identity as an empirical question to be theorized 
within a historical context ..." (Hopf 1998, 175). 

The constructivist approach to the study of world politics emphasizes the process 
of interaction that leads to state identity and interest formation. The model of behavior is 
one of rule-governed action. Instead of a calculus of rational action based on ends and 
means, actors' (i.e., states) behavior is based on the situation and the designated 
appropriate behavior for the given situation. Norms produce guidelines that shape the 
actors' understanding of their interests. A constructivist theory suggests that norms are a 
constitutive component of a state's interests. 

Norms are relevant, to some extent, in all schools of international relations theory; 

however, only the constructivist approach views norms as fundamental. Jeffrey Checkel 

(1998, 327-328) informs that: 

While realists see norms as lacking causal force, neoliberal regime theory argues 
that they play an influential rule in certain issue areas. However, even for 
neoliberals, norms are still a superstructure built upon a material base: they serve a 
regulative function, helping actors with given interests maximizing utility. Agents 
(states) create structures (norms and institutions). For constructivists, by contrast, 
norms are collective understandings that make behavior claims on actors. Their 
efforts reach deeper: they constitute actor identities and interest and do not simply 
regulate behavior. 

From the constructivist perspective the building blocks of reality are not only material but 

ideational. State interaction creates the normative base that forms the social milieu. For 

most constructivists, the level of analysis is the system. State and nonstate interaction 

creates intersubjective understandings and frames identity. 



16 

The approach taken in this study differs from standard constructivism in regards to 
where norms come from and how they emerge to influence world politics. Most 
constructivist scholars assume that states are socialized to accept new norms and 
perceptions of interests through international interactions. Alexander Wendt (1996, 48) 
offers constructivism as a structural theory of world politics. The core claims of a 
structural constructivism are the following: (1) states are the principal actors in the 
system; (2) the key structures in the system are intersubjective not material; and (3) those 
structures construct interests and identities, rather than determined by exogenous factors 
to the system such as human nature or domestic politics. This follows in an identification 
of world politics as a larger society in which values are mutually given (Bull 1977). A 
society of states exists when a group of states is conscious of and maintains certain 
common interests and common values. A common set of norms binds these states in their 
relations with each other. States maintain certain norms and construct norms through 
interaction with other states creating larger societal norms that reconstitute state level 
norms. 

Some scholars argue that international norms appear when they are welcomed and 
championed by a hegemon (Ikenberry and Kupchan 1990). Other scholars argue that 
agents for global normative change are not states, but nonstate actors. These scholars 
have focused on the role of international institutions (Finnemore 1996) or transnational 
groups (Sikkink 1993, Klotz 1995) in the diffusion of norms. Along with a focus on 
transnational actors the origin of new norms of behavior is often linked to principled ideas 
held by individuals (Finnemore and Sikkink 1998). Ethan Nadleman (1990) has 



17 
emphasized the influence of individuals, with firmly held beliefs of right and wrong and a 

desire to convert others to those ideas, who act as transnational moral entrepreneurs. I 
contend that these scholars do not place enough emphasis on state level factors in the 
development of norms. Individuals are important, but how can we explain why some gain 
legitimacy in their views while others do not? Of course transnational organizations help 
diffuse norms throughout an international society; however, a hegemon enhances this 
diffusion when it embraces the same norms. This study takes a state level view to the 
constructivist approach. Instead of norms being the sole product of international 
interaction, changes in the domestic normative structure will be offered as the origin of 
international behavior. 

Scholars in the constructivist vein suggest that the international normative 
environment alters the character of states and state behavior (Jepperson et al. 1996). 
Nevertheless, these scholars have failed to indicate the origin of the normative structure 
other than being produced by the intersubjective understandings of the states. Thomas 
Rise-Kappen reminds us that norms do not "float freely" and are at a minimum mediated 
through the individual state's domestic structure (Risse-Kappen 1994). Stephen Krasner 
further argues that the domestic structures of states determine the international 
environment, particularly the domestic structures of the most powerful states. "In the 
contemporary world transnational fascist and racist organizations are weak; this would 
hardly be the case if Germany had won the Second World War" (Krasner 1995, 266). The 
same line of reasoning would lead to the assumption that the supremacy of market 
solutions to economic problems and the dominance of multinational corporations in the 



18 
global economy would not exist if the United States had collapsed in 1991 rather than the 

Soviet Union. Therefore, we must examine the domestic normative structure of a state to 

understand its external behavior. Moreover, if the state is a powerful one, it has the 

capacity to shape the general international normative environment. U.S. foreign policy 

behavior is more influenced by domestic norms than by the norms propagated by less 

powerful states or institutionalized in systemic bodies. 

Domestic Norms in Foreign Policy 

A state's foreign policy decisions emerge from three levels of influence: (1) 

external or international influences; (2) internal or state influences; and (3) individual 

influences (Kegley and Wittkopf 1996). At the first level we find the external sources of 

foreign policy, or international influences. This includes systemic factors, such as the 

prevalence of conflict, the extent of trade interdependence, or the intersubjective 

understandings states develop through the process of interaction. The second level of 

internal influences brings in the domestic sources of foreign policy. The broadest category 

includes the state's societal environment, which contains the values, beliefs, norms, and 

self-images widely shared by the broader culture. These factors in the state's societal 

environment compose its identity. A second category at the internal level is the 

institutional setting. This includes the governmental structures, the division of authority, 

and the decision-making process. The third level represents the characteristics of 

individual decision makers. This level focuses on how individual personality 

characteristics explain how decision makers choose to conduct foreign policy. 



19 

All three levels can account for variations in a state's foreign policy. At the 

systemic level, a state's foreign policy options are directly related to the global distribution 
of power (Waltz 1979). Some states, based on their relative power capabilities, have 
greater leeway in their choices. Nevertheless, as the extant literature on the democratic 
peace suggests, the type of political regime is an important predictor of a state's foreign 
policy (see Chan 1997 for an excellent review). The type of political regime circumscribes 
a state's options irrespective of power capabilities. The institutional structure of the 
foreign policy making process and organizational procedures shape foreign policy 
outcomes (Allison and Zelikow 1999, Nisley 1999). At the individual level psychological 
and personality differences account for variance in decision making behavior (Jervis 1976, 
McDermott 1998). This study argues that the prevailing domestic norms at the societal 
level will provide a robust account of a state's foreign policy behavior regarding the 
promotion of democracy. Norms set boundaries on behavior, restricting some and 
mandating others. 

Societal norms structure all three levels of influence in some way. Societal norms 
dictate how a state will respond to systemic constraints. Although the structure of the 
system limits choices, choices do remain. State institutions and organizational structure 
are derived from and influenced by larger societal norms. Democratic institutions are 
legitimated through democratic norms. Individual decision makers are products of the 
societies to which they are born. For example, Adolf Hilter's anti-Semitism and 
xenophobia were not far removed from the rural Austro-German culture in which he was 
reared and were widely embraced by the broader German culture. 



20 
As a factor in a state's foreign policy, norms are fundamental. Societal norms and 
ideas held by individuals help shape a state's foreign policy. Judith Goldstein and Robert 
Keohane (1993) provide a framework that explains how ideas (beliefs held by individuals) 
explain policy outcomes. Although Goldstein and Keohane emphasize ideas, their 
framework is relevant for this study since norms are in essence the collective ideas of 
proper and improper behavior held by the larger society. Goldstein and Keohane offer 
three types of ideas: world views, principled beliefs, and causal beliefs. World views 
address the concept of what is possible and "are embedded in the symbolism of a culture 
and deeply affect modes of thought and discourse" (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 8). 
Principled beliefs specify the criteria of right and wrong and are often justified in terms of 
world views (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 9). The third category of ideas, causal beliefs 
"are beliefs about cause-effect relationships which derive authority from the shared 
consensus of recognized elites ..." (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 10). 

Goldstein and Keohane identify three causal pathways through which ideas 
influence policy. Ideas may serve as road maps assisting individuals in the determination 
of their own preferences or to understand relationships (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 13). 
Ideas serve as focal points and help individuals choose from among multiple outcomes 
(Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 17). Finally, ideas influence policy as they become 
"institutionalized" (Goldstein and Keohane 1993, 20). Ideas influence organization design 
and the development of political institutions, administrative agencies, legal structures and 
operating procedures, that mediate between ideas and outcomes. 



21 
John Ruggie suggests that the Goldstein and Keohane typology does not advance 
us far from the neo-utilitarian precepts of neoliberal regime theory (Ruggie 1998, 17). 
Goldstein and Keohane seek to use ideas to account for unexplained variance in their 
rationalist models. Beliefs are not independent variables, they are intervening variables 
that explain anomalies in a rational-materialistic account. Goldstein and Keohane (1993, 
7) declare that "we do not seek to explain the sources of these ideas; we focus on their 
effects." The Goldstein and Keohane typology provides a starting point, but we must 
move further and account for norms as independent causal variables. Individual ideas are 
translated through intersubjective beliefs into social facts. This is what the philosopher 
Searle calls collective intentionality. Intentionality remains an individual event, "[b]ut 
within those individual heads it exists in the form 'we intend' and T intend only as part of 
our intending'" (quoted in Ruggie 1998, 20). Broad societal norms are important 
explanatory variables in the study of world politics. 

Domestic norms are the most important part of the explanation of the democratic 
peace. In matters of war and peace, the empirical evidence strongly suggests that 
democracies are more peaceful in their relations with other democracies (Maoz and 
Abdolali 1989, Russett 1993, Ray 1995). Some scholars have found evidence to suggest 
that democracies are more peaceful in international relations overall. Stuart Bremer finds 
that democratic states are less likely than nondemocratic states to engage in militarized 
interstate disputes (Bremer 1992). David Rousseau and his colleagues (1996, 527) 
present evidence suggesting that "democracies are less likely to initiate crisis with all other 
types of states " R. J. Rummel (1983) has gone far as to assert that democracies are less 



22 
warlike than other types of regimes. Moreover, he concludes that the more democratic a 

regime the less severe will be its foreign violence (Rummel 1996, 71). Rummel further 

extends the pacific benefits of democracy to a state's internal relations. Democracies are 

the most internally peaceful regimes, or as Rummel declares "democracies don't murder 

their citizens" (Rummel 1996, 91). 

The question we must ask is why do democracies appear to be more pacific in all 
of their relations? Zeev Maoz and Bruce Russett (1993) offer two alternative explanations 
for the democratic peace: a structural/institutional account that suggests that bellicose 
executives in democracies are constrained by elected representative institutions and a 
normative account that emphasizes certain aspects of liberal democracy - market 
economies, nonviolent resolution of differences, the rule of law - as guiding relations 
between democratic states. Scholars differ about which factors are more important. 
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and David Lalman (1992, 156) dismiss the normative account 
since democracies will still fight nondemocratic countries; "[b]eing a liberal democracy 
does not guarantee that a nation behaves like a dove, just as failing to be a liberal 
democracy does not guarantee that a nation is hawk like." Christopher Layne (1994) also 
makes this argument . Maoz and Russett (1993) demonstrate that both the 
structural/institutional and normative accounts offer explanations of the democratic peace, 
however, democratic norms are even more positively correlated with low conflict than 
democratic institutions. 

The division of the explanation into a structural and a normative account is a false 
dichotomy. Even Bruce Russett (1993, 40) recognizes that the two models are not neatly 



23 
separable and that "[institutions depend on norms and procedures." John Owen (1994) 

argues that liberal ideas (norms) produce both democratic ideology and institutions, which 

work together to constraint government and produce the democratic peace. Liberal states 

"trust those states they consider fellow liberal democracies and see no reason to fight 

them" (Owen 1996, 153). The problem with the broader normative argument is that most 

scholars researching the democratic peace assume that domestic norms are static rather 

than dynamic. Any state that meets the scholar's definition of democracy is considered 

imbued with democratic norms. However, our conceptions of democracy have changed 

over time so why should we not consider that democratic norms have changed also? 1 

In quantitative studies on the democratic peace, the indicators for norms have a 

limited capacity to capture the dynamic concept of domestic norms. For example, in his 

test of the democratic peace in the post World War II era, Russett (1993) uses two proxy 

variables to capture domestic norms: the persistence of a political regime and the level of 

domestic political violence measured by the number of violent political deaths and the 

number of political executions. Russett proposes that a society with strong democratic 

norms would be characterized by a political regime of some duration and with little or no 



'For a tightly reasoned argument to the changing nature of democracy see C.H. 
Macpherson (1977), The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy . Macpherson argues that 
Western liberal democracy did not emerge until the nineteenth century when liberal 
theorists came to believe that one man one vote would not be dangerous to private 
property. Democracy has moved through four identifiable phases: (1) Protective 
Democracy that only protected the governed from abuses of the government; (2) 
Developmental Democracy that brought a moral dimension to democracy seeing 
democracy as a means to individual self-development; (3) Equilibrium Democracy that 
rejects individual self-development and instead provides a justification for a competition 
between elites, and finally (4) Participatory Democracy that is an emerging phase of 
democratic life with more extensive individual inputs into the governing process. 



24 
political violence. 

Both are behavioral indicators that cannot capture the concept of democratic 
norms. One can easily imagine a society in which a thoroughgoing anti-democratic 
attitude dominates the culture, such a religious community. This may be a long-standing 
regime in which political violence need not exist. The Puritan colony of early America 
comes to mind as an example, as well the Kingdom of Bhutan today. Although the 
absolute monarchy in Bhutan was changed to a form of democratic monarchy in 1969, 
democratic norms do not characterize the society. Rather, a subservience to traditional 
culture and Buddhism characterize Bhutan. No political violence is necessary to maintain 
order. 

A further problem with democratic norms is the potential for a subjective bias. Ido 
Oren (1995) contends that the democratic peace is subjective and the United States over 
the years has redefined its definition of democracy "to keep our self-image consistent with 
our friends' attributes and inconsistent with those of our adversaries" (Oren 1996, 263). 
Although Oren does recognized internal changes to the U.S.'s definition of democracy, he 
puts more emphasis on external influences of foreign policy. According to Oren, President 
Woodrow Wilson's image of Imperial Germany changed as a function of the foreign 
policy process. Wilson once considered Germany an ideal democracy with an advanced 
and effective political system. It is only when relations turned bellicose in 1917 that 
Wilson developed a negative perception of Germany. Oren's argument is compatible with 
Owen's. For a democratic peace to be maintained liberal states must perceive other states 
as liberal. External threats do appear to play role, nevertheless, the prevailing domestic 



25 
normative structure energizes the linkages of perception. Domestic norms change, often 
profoundly over time. To illustrate such deep changes one only has to think of President 
Wilson. If Woodrow Wilson were a politician today, given his Anglo-Saxonist views and 
racist disposition, he would not be considered a mainstream, viable candidate for national 
office. 

Norms are important explanatory variables. Clearly, a state's foreign policy 
emerges from multiple levels of influence and multiple variables. All social phenomena 
derive from plural causes (Mill 1846). However, if we embrace the idea that the state is a 
product, a reflection, and the expression of society, we can understand state behavior by 
understanding the norms held by that society. Broad societal norms stimulate actions at 
all levels of influence. Norms change over time and with a change in norms we find 
changes in state policies and actions. The next section considers the literature about a 
particular U.S. policy, the promotion of democracy and human rights abroad. 

Explanations for U.S. Efforts to Promote Democracy and Human Rights 

The preponderance of the literature on democracy promotion by the United States 
has tended toward a normative policy approach. Exemplars of this type are Transitions 
from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy , a four-volume collection edited by 
Guillermo O'Donnell, Philip C. Schimitter and Laurence Whitehead, and Democracy in 
Developing Countries , another four volume series, edited by Larry Diamond, Juan J. Linz 
and Seymor Martin Lipset. Both volumes were commissioned by organizations funded by 



26 
the U.S. Congress. 2 This type of literature is less an academic explanation and more a 
policy handbook. Larry Diamond's (1995) report to the Carnegie Commission on 
Preventing Deadly Conflict, Promoting Democracy in the 1990s: Actors and Instruments- 
Issues and Imperative is the ultimate guide for the policymaker seeking to promote 
democracy. The report provides a justification for promoting democracy (as a means to 
global order and U.S. national security) and presents all of the actors and instruments 
needed to promote democracy. 3 In seeking to understand U.S. foreign policy this type of 
literature provides no explanation except as objects of inquiry themselves. 

A body of literature on U.S. democracy promotion that seeks to explain the 
phenomenon does exist. Some of this literature perceives the policy as a natural 
manifestation of a democracy. For example, Gregory Fossedal (1989) argues that the 
U.S. promotes democracy abroad as an embodiment of its democratic nature. Contrary to 
the perception of isolationism within the American public, Fossedal contends that public 
opinion since the end of World War II has consistently remained interventionist. The 
promotion of democracy aboard is a necessary product of a democratic state. Fossedal 
(1989, 220) declares that "to argue against a foreign policy to promote the rights of man, 
then, is to argue against the rights themselves, and thus against our own institutions." 



2 The Diamond et al. volumes were commissioned by the National Endowment for 
Democracy and the O'Donnell et al. series were funded by the Woodrow Wilson Center. 

3 For the latest policy and strategic assessment on democracy promotion published 
by the Carnegie Endowment see Thomas Carothers (1999) Aiding Democracy Abroad: 
The Learning Curve . 



27 
Joshua Muravchik (1992), much like Francis Fukuyama (1992), sees the triumph 
of the U.S. in the Cold War as a victory of democratic ideology over other ideologies. 
According to Muravchik, democratic ideas have been indefatigably connected with the 
United States since its inception and a foreign policy that emphasizes an American identity 
with the cause of democracy finds deep roots in American history. Muravchik explains 
the absence of a policy toward democracy promotion to the absence of strong domestic 
leadership. The spirit of democracy has always existed in the American soul, all it needed 
was a leader to revive it. Muravchik links the rekindled spirit of democracy to President 
Ronald Reagan. Therefore, democracy promotion is a product of America's spirit and the 
general elan of democracy. The absence of democracy promotion is attributed to currents 
of isolationism in U.S. foreign policy that have obviated the natural tendency of the 
democracy spirit. It is isolationism that Muravchik decries and instead exhorts a policy of 
"democratic internationalism" in which the U.S. pursues peace by making more countries 
democratic and actively shapes the international climate to one that is congenial to the 
United States. 

Tony Smith (1994) also ties the promotion of democracy with U.S. security 
interests. Smith chronicles the U.S. efforts to promote democracy beginning with the 
reconstruction of the South after the Civil War. For Smith, the progenitor of a global 
policy of democracy promotion is President Wilson. It is Wilson who lays the ground 
work for U.S. security policy for the twentieth century with the tenets developed in his 
Fourteen Points: that nationalism should be respected; that democracy is the only 
legitimate form of government; that the United States has an interest and an obligation to 



28 
further democracy abroad; that democracy and capitalism are mutually reenforcing 
systems; and that in a world of many states there is a need for international law 
encouraged by multilateral institutional arrangements. 4 

Smith characterizes U.S. policy to promote democracy as one that waxes and 
wanes depending on the individual presidential administration. F.D. Roosevelt is said to 
have backed away from Wilson's ambition to promote democracy in the Western 
Hemisphere. After the Second World War, the democratization of the conquered Axis 
states and the general support for democracy in Europe through the Marshall plan is hailed 
as a Wilsonian triumph. However, Eisenhower is regarded as stepping back from 
democracy and even overthrowing democratically elected governments. Although 
characterized as an abysmal failure, Kennedy's Alliance for Progress is lauded as an 
exemplary program in the Wilsonian vein. Surprisingly, Smith leaves a gapping hole in his 
analysis and fails to address an entire decade with the Johnson and Nixon administrations. 
The only discussion of these two administrations is to conclude that they were a 
reassertion of realism from the Eisenhower years. Smith portrays Carter as naively 
promoting human rights but failing to understand the deeper significance of Wilsonianism 
as a means to establish U.S. security through the promotion of democracy. It is Ronald 



4 In contrast to Smith's claim that Wilson established the paradigm for U.S. foreign 
policy that is still applicable today, Frank Ninkovich (1999) in The Wilsonian Century 
suggests that Wilsonian internationalism was only a response to crisis in world politics. 
Wilsonian internationalism was based on the assumption that the world had stumbled into 
a new and dangerous phase which obliged U.S. policy makers to abandon traditional 
diplomacy. With the end of the Cold War, Ninkovich predicts that U.S. policy will revert 
to a normal internationalism based less on ideological orientations and more traditional 
notions of national interests. 



29 
Wilson Reagan whom Smith crowns as the heir to the true liberal internationalism of 
Wilson. "Reagan emerges as the direct descendent of Wilson, for to an extent unmatched 
since Wilson's days, the promotion of democracy was both a means and an end in 
Reagan's foreign policy" (Smith 1994, 269). 

A significant weakness of Smith's analysis is his privileging the individual level of 
analysis. The foundation of Smith's analysis rests on the differences between particular 
presidents and their abilities to perceive correctly Wilson's notions of U.S. security and 
the promotion of democracy. Smith fails to address adequately why the exigencies of the 
Cold War compelled Eisenhower to work with and support authoritarian allies and come 
to an understanding with the Soviet Union, while for Reagan the same conflict obligated 
him to promote a democratic revolution and confront the "evil empire" ruled from 
Moscow. 

Domestic level changes in the United States are for the most part ignored in the 
literature on democracy promotion. This failure on Smith's part is puzzling since he 
advocates injecting a comparative politics approach to the study of the spread of 
democracy globally. Smith wants us to understand the international origins of democracy 
by systematically analyzing the impact of U.S. foreign policy on other state's domestic 
structure. Nevertheless, changes in U.S. domestic structure are not accounted for in U.S. 
policy changes. 

G. John Ikenberry (2000) sees the promotion of democracy by the United States, 
particularly in the post World War II era, as a learned strategy to maintain a congenial 
security environment. This is a recognition by U.S. policy makers of the democratic 



30 
peace. To his credit, Ikenberry does not suggest democracy promotion to be long- 
standing U.S. policy. The recent U.S. preoccupation with democracy and human rights "is 
part of a larger liberal view about the sources of a stable, legitimate, secure, and 
remunerative international order" (Ikenberry 2000, 104). Like Smith, Ikenberry links U.S. 
policy to issues of security and grand strategy. Both of their arguments are compatible 
with the neoclassic realist position that posits that intentions as well as capabilities shape a 
state's foreign policy (Walt 1987). As Randall Schweller informs us, "according to this 
realist school, threat does not inhere in power alone, the relative distribution of capabilities 
among states is less important than assessments of others' intentions in determining how 
states interact with each other" (Schweller 2000, 42). Associated with the grand strategy 
of democracy is the promotion of economic openness and market economies. As 
Ikenberry states in the U.S. system of democracy enlargement "[international business is a 
coalition partner" (Ikenberry 2000, 126). The association with economic issues raises 
questions of economic motivations for democracy promotion by the United States. 

William Robinson's (1996) provides a nuanced explanation for U.S. democracy 
promotion and accounts for an evolution and change in policy. Arguing from a Gramscian 
perspective of politics and a Wisconsin School of diplomatic history, Robinson suggests 
that the core countries led by the United States have realized that in a globalized world 
economy successful control of the periphery is not possible through coercive measures. In 
an attempt to limit calls for greater participation and high intensity democracy by countries 
in the developing world, the United States has promoted low intensity democracy or 
polyarchy. Polyarchy is "a way to relieve pressure from subordinate groups for more 



31 
fundamental political, social and economic change" (Robinson 1996, 6). The democracy 
agenda by the United States is a cover for more basic economic objectives. 

Whereas most of the other scholars discussed above view democracy promotion as 
a long-standing tradition in U.S. policy, Robinson correctly understands that it is a recent 
phenomenon. However, one has to remain skeptical of his thesis that a transnational 
managerial class has appeared at the pinnacle of a global class structure. According to 
Robinson, the power of globalization has reduced the power of states to control and 
regulate economic activity within national borders, nevertheless, a transnational elite has 
set out to create a global civil society to further its own interests. Globalization 
deconcentrates power and limits the ability of any single actor state or nonstate from 
dominating political and economic activities. Nevertheless, Robinson would have us 
believe that the transnational managerial class, which has penetrated civil society and 
gained command over popular mobilization and mass movements, is now controlling the 
global order (Robinson 1996, 69). 

As with most Marxists' analyses, which focus on material forces, control over 
those forces is linked to a nameless and faceless elite. Robinson's real problem is with the 
failure of socialism as an economic system and the developing acceptance that markets are 
natural occurring products of human interaction. Robinson concludes that capitalism is 
dangerous for democracy and a "democratic socialism founded on a popular democracy 
may be humanity's 'last best,' and perhaps only hope" (Robinson 1996, 384). Robinson's 
conclusions are suspect, however, he does accurately point to a significant change in U.S. 
policy toward the promotion of democracy abroad beginning in the 1970s. Where he 



32 
claims that policy change is a product of globalization and transnational forces, this study 
suggests that we must turn to domestic sources within the United States. 

Before we turn to domestic sources, we must deal with a basic Realist explanation 
for the change in U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion of democracy and human 
rights. 5 From a Realist perspective with a focus on relative power capabilities one may 
explain the variance U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion of human rights and 
democracy by examining the distribution of power between the U.S. and Soviet Union. 
Immediately after the Second World War, the United States had a preponderance of 
power in the global system. Allied aircraft had bombed Europe and Japan to ruins. 
Although the Soviet Union had significant military capabilities, its ability to project power 
was limited. Clearly Soviet military capabilities did not threaten the U.S. homeland. The 
United States had the luxury to promote human rights and democracy. The United States 
helped establish democratic regimes in Japan and Western Germany. 

By 1949 the Soviet Union ended the U.S. atomic monopoly. Furthermore, the 
development of long range missiles by the Soviets in the late 1950s clearly put the U.S. 
homeland in striking distance. With this high level of threat and a balance of power tilting 
away from the United States, the luxury to promote human rights and democracy ended. 
Detente and the stability of mutual assured destruction in the early 1970s allowed the 
United Stated to reinstate a luxury policy such as human rights. 

As we will see in a later chapter, the U.S. policy toward human rights and the 
promotion of democracy does not match the ebbs and flows of the Cold War hostilities 



5 I want to thank Christopher Gelpi for suggesting this argument. 



33 
with the Soviet Union. In the early phase of the Cold War when the U.S. maintained a 

preponderance of power over the Soviet Union, U.S. support for democracy and human 
rights was uncertain. This uncertain support rapidly evolved into overt neglect and 
outright support for authoritarian regimes long before the Soviet developed the capability 
to strike the United States. The period of detente was transitory and quickly emerged into 
renewed Cold War tensions with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the election of 
President Reagan. Nevertheless, increased support for human rights and a formal program 
of democracy promotion developed in U.S. foreign policy during the Reagan 
administration. Clearly, we must examine other sources for policy change in the United 
States. In the next section we turn to domestic theories of foreign policy. 

Domestic Theories of Foreign Policy 
The idea that domestic activities are a source of foreign policy is one that has a 
long tradition in the study of world politics. Thucydides (1903) reports how the internal 
activities of the Greek city states shaped their external behavior. In addition to the growth 
of Athenian power and the fear that it caused Sparta, the domestic political machinations 
of Pericles also cause war. Niccolo Machiavelli (1910) located state behavior with the 
behavior of political leaders and Immanuel Kant (1795) distinguished a difference in the 
behavior of monarchies from republics. In the twentieth century, prior to Kenneth Waltz's 
(1979) revision of realism, many realist explanations for international outcomes relied on 
national or subnational attributes. Henry Kissinger's (1964) theory of international 
relations linked the domestic political structure of the state to the nature of international 
politics, either stable or revolutionary. George Kennan attributed Soviet behavior to 



34 
factors rooted deep within Russian society (Gaddis 1982, 48). The work on decision 
making in foreign policy, such as Irving Janis (1972) and Robert Jervis (1976) clearly 
locate their causal analysis at the domestic level. Janis examines the links of social 
pressure to the enforcement of conformity and consensus in decision making. Jervis 
investigates the impact of historical learning on individual decision makers. The events 
that political leaders experience shape their particular image of the world and the 
particular lessons learned from history. The diversionary theory of war suggests the 
importance of domestic factors. This hypothesis posits that leaders with domestic 
problems undertake risky foreign policies they otherwise would not attempt (Levy 1989; 
Smith 1996). Robert Putnam (1988) suggests that political leaders have two audiences, 
one domestic and one foreign, and find themselves compelled to play "two-level games." 6 
The concept of two-level games assumes that leaders are trying to do two things at once, 
that is, manipulate domestic and international politics. Despite the dominance of systemic 
approaches, encompassed in the neorealist/neoliberal debate, a tradition exists that 
emphasizes state-level factors in the study of world politics. 

We can divide domestic theories of foreign policy into three broad categories: (1) 
society-centered domestic theories, which stress the influence of domestic interest groups, 
elections and public opinion; (2) state-centered domestic theories where the source of 
foreign policy behavior is within the administrative and decision making apparatus of the 
executive branch; and (3) state-society domestic theories where foreign policy behavior 



6 For an extensive application of Putnam's two-level games see Evans et al. (1993) 
Double-Edged Diplomacy: International Bargaining and Domestic Politics . 



35 
originates from an interaction of institutions of representation, education, and 
administration linking society and the state (Moravcsik 1993). Which type of theory is 
most appropriate depends on the state's domestic structure. 

States vary in their type of domestic structure. Thomas Risse-Kappen (1994, 240) 
informs us that the "notion of domestic structure refers to the institutional characteristics 
of the state, to societal structures, and to the policy networks linking state and society." 
Society-dominated domestic structures exist in countries with strong societal 
organizations, a high degree of mobilization of interest groups, and decentralized and 
fragmented political institutions. State dominated domestic structures embrace centralized 
political institutions with strong national executives able to manipulate the political 
process. 

The United States is an example of a society-dominated domestic structure. The 
U.S. Constitution provides the environment for a society-dominated structure. Its 
provisions of free speech, association, and the right to petition the government are basic to 
the strong society structure. Compared to many states, the United States has a 
decentralized foreign policy decision making process. The U.S. Congress has more 
authority over foreign policy than other legislative bodies. Congress influences policy 
through its general legislative, budgetary and oversight powers. Although Congress relies 
on blunt foreign policy tools that are essentially negative, they are still formidable tools 
nonetheless (Hastedt 2000, 198). The decentralized nature of the U.S. Congress provides 



36 
multiple access points for mobilized groups and as conduits of societal influences. 7 Given 
the openness of the U.S. political system we can expect that societal demands, including 
public attitudes, should reach decision makers in the Congress and the executive. 
Moreover, we should assume that the political leaders monitored public sentiments and 
patterns of attitude formation. 

Public Opinion and Foreign Policy 

The influence of public opinion in matters of foreign policy has relevance for 
democratic polities. The masses can revolt under any governmental structure, but it is 
only in a democratic polity, where political leaders need the consent of the governed that 
public opinion has relevance, or even be worth studying. One causal factor identified for 
the pacific nature of democracies (at least with other democracies) is the need to mobilize 
public opinion to move a state to war. In his essay "Perpetual Peace," Kant (1795) 
reasoned that states founded on a republican constitution must gain the consent of the 
citizenry to decide if there will be war. 

In the twentieth century, we can view President Wilson as propagating the view 
that infuses the necessary aspect of public opinion into a state's conduct of foreign policy. 
The first of Wilson's Fourteen Points argues for open negotiations among states with no 
private international understandings. Wilson forcefully asserts that "diplomacy shall 
proceed always frankly and in the public view." The implication of this statement is that 



'Traditionally, Congressional work was done in committees, however, in the 1970s 
the focus of decision making changed from the full committee to the subcommittee. This 
has resulted in a greater decentralization of the Congress. Furthermore, the 1970s 
witnessed a weakening of party discipline, an erosion of the seniority system, and the 
growth in congressional staff. See Davidson and Oleszek (1977) Congress Against Itself. 



37 
the public is a part of a government's policy formation. In a democracy, not only should 
policy proceed with the consent of the governed, but the governed themselves will form an 
opinion on policy to the extent that matters affect their personal lives. 

Whereas Wilson assigned an imperative to the common man, the journalist Walter 
Lippmann saw only the opprobrium of public opinion in policy making. Lippmann (1922) 
maintained that people are too fully engaged in the day to day requirements of earning a 
living to pay much attention to what is going on around them. According to Ole Holsti 
(1992, 441), Lippmann doubted the ability of the media to inform the public and to serve 
as a valid source of information about the world. People are too busy to be engaged in 
foreign policy issues, and if they wanted to be engaged the avenues for information are 
inadequate. The outbreak of World War II appeared to offer evidence for Lippmann's 
position, an inattentive American public refused to engage in world politics, allowing the 
rise of predator states in the system. 

Following World War II, a consensus emerged on public opinion and foreign 
policy. Gabriel Almond's (1950) The American People and Foreign Policy help to solidify 
the perception of the American public that Lippmann had developed. Almond depicted 
public opinion as an erratic and mood driven constraint on foreign policy. For the most 
part, the public's "characteristic response to questions of foreign policy was one of 
indifference" (Almond 1960, 53). Moreover, the public's attitude toward foreign policy 
was often volatile to the point that it provided no foundation for policy formation. 
Almond went as far as suggesting that public opinion, besides being erratic, provided the 
wrong advice for policy makers. "Often the public is apathetic when it should be 



38 
concerned, and panicky when it should be calm" (quoted in Holsti 1992, 442). The 
scholarly consensus on the Wilsonian idealization of the American public was far from 
sanguine. 

The behavioralist scholarship emerging out of the University of Michigan further 
buttressed the Lippmann- Almond consensus on public opinion. Philip Converse's (1964) 
"The Nature of Belief Systems in Mass Publics" suggested that the public lacked any real 
structure or coherence to their political beliefs. From panel studies in which surveyors 
asked the same people the same questions about public policy repeatedly in 1956, 1958, 
and 1 960, Converse found that the answers varied from survey to survey without a 
predictable pattern. He concluded that "large portions of the electorate do not have 
meaningful beliefs, even on issues that have formed the basis of intense political 
controversy among elites for substantial period of time" (Converse 1993, 60). According 
to Converse, the mass public's attitudes toward foreign policy issues are in essence 
"nonattitudes." 

Converse's study and others that support his conclusion (Erskine 1963, Converse 
and Markus 1979) have lead to a tripartite view of the American public when it comes to 
foreign policy. The idea of multiple publics was first expounded by James Rosenau 
(1961), in which he conceived of the foreign policy publics as occupying a concentric 
circle with a pinpoint representing the core decision makers. Outside the core decision 
makers are the elite public that directly influences the core and compose about 5 percent 
of the overall population. Next on the rings of the circle are the informed public, which 
includes ten to 20 percent of the population. The informed public as the name implies 



39 
seeks out information on international affairs. Their contact with the foreign policy 
process is indirect and they have limited or no contact with the policy process. Outside 
the informed public are the "gr eat unwashed" of the uninformed public. This is the 80 
percent of the public that knows little or nothing about foreign affairs and never reads 
stories about international affairs. It is within this domain that Converse's nonattitudes of 
the mass public develop. 

The hegemony of the Converse model of the mass public fades with the Vietnam 
war. Increasing opposition to the war was seen as a response to the rising number of 
causalities and the polarization of elites (Mueller 1973). In a reassessment of the influence 
of public opinion, Benjamin Page and Robert Shapiro (1992, 284) find that public opinion 
is not only rational but an autonomous force that can have a substantial impact on policy. 8 
John Aldrich, John Sullivan and Eugene Borgida (1989) found that citizens were equally 
as able to identify their policy positions on foreign and domestic policy issues, suggesting 
that Converse's characterization of public attitudes as unstructured was misinformed. 
These works challenge the assumption that foreign policy attitudes of the general public 
are random and disorganized without any consideration of ideological orientation (such as 
a liberal/conservative frame) in their formation and structure. 

Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley (1987) challenge Converse by drawing from the 
theoretical literature on schemata, which suggests a structure to foreign policy political 
attitudes. The structure must be uncovered by focusing on domain specific information 



"Page and Shapiro's findings include not only the post- Vietnam era, but extend 
back to 1935. 



40 
and how the domain shapes the relationship between general and specific attitudes toward 
policy. The foreign policy domain cannot be studied in the same fashion as a domestic 
policy domain. Other studies suggest that foreign policy attitudes may be more stable than 
previously believed (see Maggiotto and Wittkopf 1981, Wittkopf 1981). The evidence 
suggests that foreign policy attitudes are structured not unidimensionally along the 
liberal/conservative continuum on which attitudes in other domains fall, but on domain 
specific dimensions of foreign policy. 

According to Hurwitz and Peffley, people employ cognitive heuristics (shortcuts) 
to process foreign policy information and to decide foreign policy issues. People cope 
with uncertainty in foreign policy decisions by relying on their own store of general 
knowledge to help process information. We can imagine foreign policy attitudes as 
shaped by a hierarchical structure where abstract ideas inform and shape more specific and 
concrete ones. At the bottom level of the structure we find preferences referring to 
specific policy attitudes such as defense spending, international trade, etc. The middle 
level contains attitudes of a more abstract nature such as the appropriate role of the 
government in handling foreign affairs. Normative belief postures denote the general 
position the individual would like the government to take in foreign relations, such as 
aggressive versus accommodating postures in policy or internationalist versus isolationist 
positions. People rely on these general postures to render specific decisions about policy. 
At the uppermost part of the hierarchy are the individual's core values such as 
ethnocentrism or the morality of warfare, which then guide the direction of all the other 
relations within the structure. It is the change in the uppermost part of the hierarchy, the 



41 
core values or norms of behavior, that guide the interests of this study. 

In contrast to the image of an uninformed public, Catherine Kelleher (quoted in 
Hastedt 2000, 127) finds "almost every general foreign policy survey . . . [now] shows 
that the American public is increasingly well-informed about global issues . . ." Page and 
Shapiro (1992, 45) find "a remarkable degree of stability in Americans' collective policy 
preferences"during the last fifty years. If public opinion on issues of foreign policy is 
structured and coherent as recent studies suggest, we must account for the influence of 
public attitudes on foreign policy. Furthermore, stability in public opinion allows for the 
possibility of a coherent change in attitudes and orientation toward policy issues. If as 
Hurwitz and Peftley suggest, that people employ cognitive shortcuts of general normative 
beliefs to process information and to make decisions, we can link changes in the normative 
beliefs to changes in policy. 

Causal Hypothesis 

The theoretical causal relationship posited in this study is that a state's domestic 
normative structure 'causes' its foreign policy behavior. The independent variable in this 
theory is the collectively held domestic norms in a state and the dependent variable is the 
foreign policy behavior. I argue that change in U.S. domestic norms regarding domestic 
political and civil rights translates into changes in foreign policy regarding the promotion 
of political and civil rights externally (i.e., democracy promotion). 9 



9 This type of argument follows Lumsdaine's (1993) Moral Vision in International 
Politics. Lumsdaine argues that political or economic interests cannot explain economic 
foreign aid. Instead, humanitarian concerns and a systematic transfer of domestic 
conceptions of justice provide a better explanation. The change of attitudes toward 
poverty in the developed world and the creation of the social welfare state paved the way 



42 
Change in the domestic normative structure does not arise spontaneously and 
without cause. Change emerges from domestic disturbances and social protests agitating 
for a transformation in the normative status quo. These social protests may not be 
directed at foreign policy, although they can be, nevertheless, their impact and the changes 
wrought are felt at all policy levels. For example, the civil rights movement in the United 
States sought political and civil rights for African-American in the domestic realm. We 
see success of the movement in the passage of legislation guaranteeing access to political 
participation and the legal prevention of discrimination. Changes in the normative 
structure condition the successful operation of the legislation at multiple levels of society 
from political elites to the general public. Changes in the general normative structure of 
society have spillover effects for other areas of policy. For example, as the domestic 
normative structure changes from considering it correct behavior to disenfranchise a 
segment of the population (African- Americans) to one that accepts only universal 
enfranchisement, we will find in the foreign policy realm a shift in policy from maintaining 
it proper policy to support authoritarian dictatorships to one that embraces political 
regimes that reflect and respect the political wishes of a state's population. The change in 
the normative structure induces a change in general public opinion, and it influences elite 
opinion and the behavior of policymakers. 10 



for economic assistance to developing countries. For an explanation accounting for 
difference in aid levels based on domestic factors see Noel and Therien (1995). They 
suggest that the values (nonmarket income distribution) embedded in a state's social 
democratic institutions have a clear impact on the foreign aid regime. 

10 For a reversal in this causal argument see Klinker and Smith (1999) The 
Unsteady March. Klinker and Smith argue that the exigencies of foreign affairs prompted 



43 
The specific model for this theory is as follows: social movements -• domestic 
norms -* transmission of societal norms (Congress) -» Foreign PoUcy (democracy 
promotion). In this model, the antecedent phenomenon that activates the independent 
variable is the presence of protest and social movements. The independent variable 
represents the domestic normative structure. The normative structure is measured by 
attitudes toward civil and political rights and issues of tolerance and respect for diversity. 
This variable is considered progressive with changes in the normative structure being 
permanent or at least not readily changeable. For example, if a social movement creates 
through social protest, a new norm that a certain group should have an equal role in 
society, society will maintain the norm even without a continued organized movement. A 
counter social movement must develop for the norm to return to an earlier position. The 
intervening variable represents the avenues of transmission of public attitudes to foreign 
policy. This study concentrates on the Congress as the indicator of domestic norms. The 
dependent or outcome variable is democracy promotion. Promoting democracy 
encompasses the promotion of regular, free, and fair elections and universal suffrage, 
informational pluralism, civil liberties and human rights, functional autonomy for 



domestic elites to allow progress toward racial equality. As the United States needed to 
mobilize African- Americans for war and justify such wars and the sacrifices incurred in the 
name of freedom, progress in racial equality occurred. They further argue that as the 
dangers of the Cold War have receded, the commitment to "racial progress" has also 
declined. This, according to Klinker and Smith is exemplified by the erosion of the 
commitment to affirmative action. This dissertation will demonstrate that this conclusion 
is wrong. There have been long term and significant change in Americans' attitudes 
toward civil rights and racial equality. We should not necessarily see the opposition to 
affirmative action as opposition to equal rights. Rather, we can view it as a greater 
commitment to individual rights over group rights. 



44 
legislative, executive and judicial branches, and effective power and accountability for 
elected officials. 

In this chapter, I have discussed the importance of locating an understanding of 
U.S. foreign policy at the domestic level. I have shown, regarding the policy of 
democracy promotion, the existing literature is lacking a sound causal explanation. In the 
next chapter, I present the changing normative structure in the United States and discuss 
how norms are tied with the American identity. 



CHAPTER 3 
NORMS AND THE GROWTH OF TOLERANCE 

Introduction 

Norms are important in the explanation of social phenomena. Norms are culturally 
defined rules of conduct. They specify how people should behave and what they should 
do. They indicate what is proper or necessary behavior within groups, organizations and 
institutions. Norms are the fundamental building blocs of social order (Newman 2000, 
34). They govern much of our political and social lives. In politics, norms contribute to 
the protection of civil rights and liberties as much as the formal legal system (Axelrod 
1986, 1095). 

I begin this chapter with an explanation of the importance of norms for the social 
sciences. Next, I present the changing normative structure in the United States and 
discuss how norms constitute the American identity. Specifically, I am concerned with 
norms regarding political and civil rights and tolerance for diversity. As the American 
identity expands, the range of groups incorporated into the political process concurrently 
expands. As we will see in later chapters, these changes lead to changes in U.S. foreign 
policy. The expanding U.S. democracy leads to the promotion of democratic forms of 
government in countries that contained groups and cultures once considered incapable of 
democratic practices. Finally, I present empirical data showing how the American identity 
has changed with the elevated acceptance for diversity and increased tolerance within the 

45 



46 

United States. What we find with the increased respect for diversity is a changed 

American identity. The exclusive male-dominated, white, Christian/Protestant identity of 
America has changed to what is often call a multicultural American identity. A 
multicultural identity does not necessarily lead to fragmentation and "cultural wars" as 
some have claimed (Royal 1995, Huntington 1997). Instead, a multicultural identity 
allows for diversity under the liberal framework that protects individual rights. 

Social Sciences, Norms and Explanation 
Mark Risjord (1998) informs us that norms play a pivotal role in the philosophy of 
social science. The role of norms makes humans a distinct subject of study and any 
attempt to understand and explain human behavior must take into account the normative 
aspects of human life. Models of explanation drawn from the natural sciences do not 
assign a role to norms and thus are not appropriate for the social scientist. 

Not all agree. Carl Hempel (1963) and David Henderson (1993), for example, 
deny that norms have an explanatory role. For these scholars explanations must be causal. 
Henderson asserts that explanations are answers to why-questions. "[I]n asking a why- 
question (regarding a particular event or state) we seek responses that allow us to 
appreciate what it was in or about the antecedent course of events that brought about (or 
helped to bring about) some particular aspect of certain subsequent events" (Henderson 
1993, 168-169). The antecedent event needs to be present in terms of its causally fitting 
features. For Henderson, appeals to norms are only useful if we understood them to be 
causally relevant to the action and thus translated into a causal disposition. This is a 
psychologically oriented explanation. In this orientation, we collapse norms into the 



47 
dispositions of the agent and therefore norms qua norms will not be found among the 

agent's reasons. Risjord (1998, 235) suggests that we must understand norms along a 

second dimension, a sociological one. The psychological-orientation attributes intentional 

actions to the goals of the agent. This is what motivates the agent. Therefore, the agent 

heeds such motives to be sufficient reasons for action. Nevertheless, we must recognize 

that the agent acts in accordance with some norm by which some reasons are good in and 

of themselves. 

What I have described above is the old cleavage in social science between Adam 
Smith's conception of humans as economic creatures and Emile Durkheim's idea of social 
humans. Instrumental rationality guides the former with the promise of reward. The 
forces of proscribed behavior pushes the latter. Neither view is totally wrong nor 
completely right. Some behaviors maybe explained on the basis of human rationality. 
Nevertheless, social forces construct the milieus in which the rational actor must operate. 
Moreover, norms are subject to change creating evolving environments in which rational 
action has different meanings. 

Cultural norms shape the behavior of the overwhelming majority of a given 
population. Philip Pettit (1993, 336) gives us the formal definition of norms. 

A regularity, R, in the behaviour [sic] of members of a population, P, is a cultural 

norm if and only if, in any instance of a certain situation S among members P: 

1 . Nearly everyone conforms to R. 

2. Nearly everyone approves of nearly anyone else's conforming and disapproves 
of the deviating. 



48 
3. The fact that nearly everyone approves and disapproves on this pattern helps 

ensure that nearly everyone conforms. 
In this definition of a norm we find that most of the population has accepted the behavior 
and practices it widely. Therefore, norms are social in that other people help to enforce 
them by expressing their approval or disapproval. Norms are real and autonomous. They 
possess independent motivating power. "Norms are not merely ex post rationalizations of 
self-interest, although they can certainly be that sometimes. They are capable of being ex 
ante sources of action" (Elster 1989, 125). 

Norms are more than shared beliefs of appropriate behavior. This definition is 
overly broad and includes beliefs that no one takes seriously and does not affect action. 
Not all norms are treated with equal seriousness. One should get six to eight hours of 
sleep a night and mothers need to care for their babies are both norms of behavior. The 
former is often violated, the latter rarely. Norms are connected to beliefs related to some 
sort of sanction (Cancian 1975, 7). A mother who neglects her child will receive the 
reproach of society, not to mention possible criminal sanctions. The person who does not 
get enough sleep will only suffer the individual consequence of sleep deprivation. 

Society supports norms through multiple mechanisms. ' The first mechanism for 
supporting norms is dominance. Dominance simply means that one group has power over 
another and the violation of a norm invites some sort of punishment. Power can be 
exerted through economic and political means. The majority often imposes its norms 
upon the society as a whole. Within society, norms often become individually internalized. 



'The following is largely derived from Axelrod (1986). 



49 
Internalization means that the violation of an established norm creates psychological 
uneasiness within individuals. Therefore, even if the individual has accrued material 
benefits, the violation of the norm elicits pain. Another psychological principle supporting 
norms is known as social validation. As Robert Cialdini (1984, 117) explains, "we view a 
behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing 
it." Therefore, the more people practice the act the more is it considered correct. Social 
validation applies simply to what people decide is correct behavior. Finally, norms are 
supported through legal structures. Norms usually precede laws, but laws can maintain 
and extend them. We can understand laws as the institutionalization of cultural norms. 

Norms are subject to change. When a critical mass of people change their values 
and behavior, what was once normal becomes deviant. The history of human civilization 
is replete with examples of social institutions that have passed from normality to deviance. 
Even single events can lead to the reversal of normal practices. In the early days of the 
United States dueling was an accepted, if not often practiced, institution. Alexander 
Hamilton felt compelled to take up Aaron Burr's challenge to duel. Early in the morning 
of July 11, 1804, Hamilton and Burr faced on the New Jersey shore of the Hudson River. 
Burr's first shot mortally wounded Hamilton, and he died the next day (see Flemming 
1999). The event itself and the negative public reaction it generated toward Burr helped 
change the norms that supported the institution of dueling in the United States. 



50 
Slavery is an example of another human practice that has passed from normality to 
deviance. 2 Human slavery existed as an institution dating back to times of antiquity. With 
the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the feudal system, slavery fell into disuse in 
Europe. However, slavery was revitalized in the 15th century when Europeans first came 
into close and continued contact with the peoples of Africa. Slavery continued as a 
practice in the Western world well into the 19th century. Strong evidence suggests that 
slavery's demise originated from changing societal norms. James Lee Ray (1989) finds 
that the abolition of slavery did not come from an economic imperative. 3 We can trace 
the abolition of slavery to "moral progress" and changes in ideas about ethics and morality. 
In a large part to domestic abolitionist movements led by the Quakers on both sides of the 
Atlantic, England (1807) and the United States (1808) abolished the slave trade. At the 
Congress of Vienna (1814) through the influence of England, the assembled powers 
agreed that the slave trade should be abolished when possible (Thomas 1997, 584-586). 
The Webster- Ashburton Treaty of 1842, obligated Great Britain and the United States to 
keep a naval squadron on the African coast to prevent shipment of slaves (Thomas 1997, 
671). By 1862, international treaties allowing the right to search ocean vessels had been 



2 Slavery continues to exist in various parts of the world despite the change in 
global norms. 

3 For example, Ray (1989, 411) cites the case that sugar production in the British 
West Indies, which dropped by a third overall after the abolition of slavery. As for slavery 
in the United States, Temperley (1977, 101-2) reminds us that "[n]orthern cotton 
manufactures were dependent on Southern plantation agriculture for their raw materials. 
New York finance houses gave Southerners much of their capital and reaped their reward 
in interest." In contrast to the claims the slavery as an economic system was declining in 
the South prior to the Civil War, Fogel and Engerman (1974) claim that the Southern 
economy was robust and growing. 



51 
signed by most Western nations, including the United States. Within a few years the slave 
trade was destroyed. None of this could have been possible without a change in domestic 
societal norms. In fact, we cannot understand societal changes without taking to account 
the changes in the underlying norms that govern society. 

Norms and a State's Identity 
A state's identity may be fluid and multidimensional. It is a product of the social 
environment and the nature of power relations. We must understand a state's identity in 
these terms of environment and power. On one level, the environment determines the 
broader cultural identity, that is, the characteristics of the state's population. However, the 
norms of behavior held by the population also constitute the broader identity of a state. 
Elites also determine the identity within the state. For example, Jordan as a state identifies 
itself as Jordanian, although two-thirds of the population is Palestinian. 4 After the 1 948 
Arab-Israeli War, many Palestinian refugees "found employment ~ and middle-class status 
~ as civil servants in the Jordanian government" (Cleveland 1994, 327). Nevertheless, 
Jordan is not the homeland for Palestinians and the state's identity is not Palestinian. This 
reflects the power status of the Hashemite rulers and the lack of popular control. If 
Jordan were to democratize and shift power to the people and away from the Hashemite 
king, it may suffer an identity crisis. This leads to discussion of identity in a social and 
cultural context. 



4 Over half a million refugees arrived on Jordanian soil after the 1948 Arab-Israeli 
war. The annexation of the West Bank in 1948 by King Abbdallah added another half a 
million Palestinians to the population of Jordan. 



52 
Social identity theory, which has recently been popular in the study of international 
relations (Hermann and Kegley 1995, Mercer 1995, Geva and Hanson 1999, and Schafer 
1999), can help us understand how and why individuals develop larger identities. Social 
identity theory developed out of the psychological study of group behavior and had its 
origins in the early work by Henri Tajfel on social factors in perception (Tajfel 1959). 
Tajfel further explicated the theory with his colleagues at Bristol University in the late 
1970s (Tajfel 1978, 1982; Tajfel and Turner 1979; Turner 1982). The core idea of the 
theory is that a self-inclusive social category provides a category dependent self-definition 
that comprises an element of the self-concept (Hogg 1996, 66). This means that 
individuals try to achieve a positive sense of social identity in a way that makes their group 
favorably distinct from other groups on valued dimensions. For Tajfel, the "social identity 
of individuals is linked to their awareness of membership of certain social groups, and to 
the emotional and evaluative significance of that membership" (quoted in Deschamps 
1982, 86). 

The social group exists in a system of mutual dependence and acquires a reality 
defined through group interdependence. "The social group is both a psychological 
process and a social product" (Turner and Giles 1981, 26). Individuals within groups may 
attempt a redefinition of the existing social situation to achieve a more positive social 
identity. The group identification may be based on a common set of traditions or may 
stimulate the creation of a unique set of traditions. John Turner's (1985) self- 
categorization component of social identity theory suggests that categorization 
"accentuates both similarities among stimuli (physical, social, or aspects of the self) 



53 
belonging to the same category and differences belonging to different categories . . ." 
(Hogg 1996, 68). This creates a perceptual bias that leads to an evaluative preference for 
individuals and groups that are similar to themselves. If individuals share common 
objective elements (such as physical characteristics, common language, and historical 
experiences) they can transform these elements into a common subjective identification 
facilitating in-group creation. Language is an important aspect of group identification, 
more salient than inherited physical characteristic (see Giles and Johnson 1981). Social 
identity theory allows us to understand that an individual's identity is not static, locked into 
a primordial pattern. The individual's group identity often forms based on relatively 
enduring factors (physical characteristics and language), but it does not have to be. A 
process of interaction can produce new common elements that lead to the formation of a 
new common social identity. 

A state's identity, as with an individual's identity, is constructed. It is open to 
contestation and negotiation. One can think of nationality as another term for a state's 
identity. This conception of nationalism is not the ideological version of nationalism that 
"holds that humanity is naturally divided into nations, that nations are know by their 
characteristics ... and that the only legitimate type of government is a national (emphasis 
in the original) self-government" (Kedourie quoted in Macridis 1992, 192). Nations are, 
as Benedict Anderson (1991) suggests, "imagined communities" propelled by the state 
claiming to be the legitimate guardian of the nation. National identities are constructed 
and reconstructed in connection to the transforming social context (Renwich 1999, 5). As 
Ernest Gellner (1964, 169) argues, " [nationalism is not the awakening of the nation to 



54 
self consciousness: it invents nations where they do not exist." For example, the French 
Revolution (1792) asserted the sovereignty of the people, and for the first time linked the 
identity of the people to the state. As French nationalism turned aggressive with the rule 
of Napoleon, other peoples in Europe constructed their own national identities in response 
to the victories of the French nation and for self-defense. 

The norms of society tell us much about the nation and define who is part of the 
nation and has claim to the national identity. Norms set the collective expectation for a 
given identity and thus constitute the state's identity. "Actors conform to norms in order 
to validate social identities, and it is in the process of validating identities that interests are 
constituted" (Price and Tannenwald 1996, 125). Furthermore, norms regulate behavior 
for a constituted identity (see Cancian 1 975, 1 3 7- 1 3 8). These norms may be socially 
accepted patterns of behavior or law may sanction them. What is important to understand 
is that norms set the confines of the imagined community. As with all social constructs, 
norms are subject to change, and with change the confines of the imagined community are 
thus subject to rearrangement. 

American Identity 

If all states are "imagined communities," then the United States is the perfect 
example of an "imagined community" (Campbell 1996, 166). Social forces and time have 
reconstructed this imagined community often. The confines of the U.S. identity is not 
static. As I discuss below, the borders of his community are often changed to incorporate 
different groups of people. 



55 
In contrast to this image of a changing identity other scholars contend that the 

U.S. has a fixed identity. From a geopolitical perspective, America's relative isolation has 

lead to an identity defined through its uniqueness from the rest of the world. This 

uniqueness often expresses itself as exceptionalism. "The United States is exceptional in 

starting from a revolutionary event, in being 'the first new nation,' the first colony, other 

than Iceland to become independent." (Lipset 1992, 18). Seymour Martin Lipset defines 

American identity ideologically in terms of liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism, 

and laissez-faire. Concurring, John Gerard Ruggie argues that U.S. identity is a fixed 

identity following the principles of liberalism. American identity is embodied through "a 

set of inclusive core values: intrinsic individual as opposed to group rights, equality of 

opportunity for all, antistatism, the rule of law, and a revolutionary legacy which holds 

that human betterment can be achieved by means of deliberate human actions . . . (Ruggie 

1997, 1 10). In one sense these scholars are correct in their definitions of U.S. identity. 

What they miss is the identification of who has had access to that identity. Today, Richard 

J. Payne correctly argues: "[djespite America's ethnic, religious, and racial diversity, and 

its plethora of subcultures, there is widespread agreement that an American culture exists, 

and there is consensus on its fundamental attributes (Payne 1995, 8). 5 This 

accommodation of diversity to the cultural identity of the U.S. is one that has developed 

over the years. We can say that the United States moved through three phases of identity, 

and changes in the norms that govern the identity, an Anglo-American, Euro- American, 



5 Payne defines culture as a set of shared learned values, beliefs, perceptions, 
attitudes, modes of living, customs, and symbols (Payne 1995, 7). This definition is 
compatible with my definition of norms. 



56 

and a Multicultural identity (Lind 1995). 

Changing American Identity 

The United States for the most part has always contained peoples of multiple 
ethnic and racial groups. The English were far from the only people in colonial America. 
Other groups included the Dutch, French, Germans, Irish, Spanish, Swedes, blacks from 
Africa, and of course the native population. The first Africans arrived as slaves in the 
Jamestown colony in 1619. Slavery continued to expand in North America and by the 
time of the first census in 1790, one out of six Americans was a slave (Perkins 1993, 14). 
Mass immigration of German-speaking people into the Pennsylvania colony so concerned 
Benjamin Franklin that he supported measures to keep them out. In 1751, Franklin wrote 
that Pennsylvania "will in a few Years [sic] become a German Colony: Instead of their 
learning our Language, we must learn their's or live as in a foreign Country [sic]" (Franklin 
([1751] 1961, 120 ). He further declared that the Germans "will never adopt our 
Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion [sic]" (Franklin 
papers quoted in DeConde 1992, 12). After the Germans, the Irish constituted the next 
largest group and between 1789 and 1800 they composed 55 percent of all aliens 
naturalized (DeConde 1992, 21). 

This does not mean that the U.S. has always had a multicultural identity. 
Following the American revolution the American population was multiethnic and 
multiracial, which set it apart from the generally homogeneous countries of Europe. "No 
ethnic group in the United States could claim a clear majority, but among whites almost 
sixty percent were of English origin" (DeConde 1992, 16). These Anglo-Americans set 



57 
the standard for the American identity that governed political behavior and defined the 
United States after independence and well into the 19th century (Hunt 1987, 46-91). 
Despite the empirical realities of a diverse population in the new American state, John Jay 
in the Federalist Papers, number 2, shows the perceived American identity by many in 
leadership positions. He writes: 

I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one 
connected country to one united people ~ a people descended from the same 
ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to 
the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and 
who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a 
long and bloody war, have nobly established their general liberty and 
independence. 

However, the construct of the Anglo-American identity remained under constant attack 

from non-English immigrates, particularly Irish and German immigrants. 

Between 1846 and 1855, more than a million Germans entered the United States. 

Many fled political upheaval and revolution in Europe, and many who had been 

revolutionaries, gravitated to political activity in their new country. "This reaching out for 

political power hardened whatever antagonism the old-stock nativists felt toward the 

German- Americans" (DeConde 1992, 36). One of the most prominent anti-immigrant 

groups during the period was the American Party, or better known as the Know Nothings. 

According to Michael Holt (1973, 311), "[b]etween 1853 and 1856 the fastest growing 

political force in many parts of the United States was not the anti-slavery Republican 

party, but the secret anti-Catholic and anti-foreign Know Nothing movement." This group 



58 
defined itself in nativist terms of being anti-immigrant and particularly anti-Catholic. 6 The 
American party achieved some electoral success in 1854 when it elected eight governors 
and more than one hundred members of Congress (Lind 1995, 50). 7 

In the mid-nineteenth century America the "cult of Anglo-Saxonism" developed 
along with "scientific racism" used to justify American expansionism (Hietala 1999, 171). 
According to Michael Hunt (1987, 78), the arrival of many foreign immigrants increased 
the sensitivity among the Anglo elites in the United States. Ethnic Anglos sought to 
preserve their cultural hegemony against the Irish and German immigrants. The anxiety of 
the Anglo elites sharpened as more immigrants came from other parts of Europe at the 
close of the century. Hierarchical racial thinking influenced foreign policy: 

The elite's preoccupation with differences among whites carried over to into the 
fabric of thinking on world affairs. Anglo-Saxons clearly dominated the 
international stage. The Germans came next. They had the same qualities as their 
racial cousins save one - they had lost their love of liberty. This single serious 
defect set Germans just beyond the Anglo-Saxon pale and made this still- 
formidable people into a threatening global competitor . . . The Slavs, half 
European and half Asiatic, were also formidable racial competitors on the 
international stage . . . Lower down in the hierarchy were the Latin peoples of 
Europe, defined to include the French as well as the Italians and Spaniards . . . 
Still farther back among the ranks of the unworthy appeared the Jews . . . 
Predictably, farthest back were the people of Africa. (Hunt 1987, 78-79) 



6 The Whig party lost support among the American nativists with the nomination of 
Winfield Scot in 1852. Many perceived Scott as actively pro-Catholic. Nativists within 
and without the Whig party were alienated by Scott's lenient policy toward Catholic 
churches during the Mexican War and by his willingness to educate his daughters in 
convents (Holt 1973, 315). 

7 The American party also gained popular support from its anti-slavery position. Its 
electoral strengthen waned with the rise of the Republican party, which captured the anti- 
slavery position without the anti-immigrant trappings. 



59 
The change from a United States with an Anglo-American identity to a Euro- 
American one began with the American Civil War. A third of the Union Army was 
composed of foreign-born troops with large German and Irish contingents. Michael Lind 
(1995, 54) argues that the Civil War "can be described without much exaggeration as a 
conflict between the Anglo-American South and a new Euro- American society emerging 
in the north." After the Civil War, immigration from Europe continued apace. Some four 
million people immigrated from Italy alone between 1880 and 1920 (Aguiree and Turner 
1998, 213). 

In 1891, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that created a permanent 
administrative structure to control immigration. The statute also placed immigration 
under the control of the federal government (Higham 1971, 99). During the same period, 
the U.S. Congress curtailed immigration from non-European parts of the world (see 
McKenzie 1928; Miller 1969). The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 suspended 
immigration of Chinese laborers for ten years and prevented persons of Chinese ancestry 
residing in the U.S. from acquiring citizenship. Congress extended the act for ten years in 
1892, for two years in 1902, and finally extended indefinitely in 1904 ( Aguirre and Turner 
1 998, 1 80). 8 In the early part of the 20th century the Congress took further action to 
prevent immigration from Asia. The 1917 Immigration Act stopped Japanese immigration 
and immigration from other parts of Asia (Matthews 1964). 



8 The act was not repealed by Congress until 1943 when it was replaced by a quota 
system for Chinese immigrants. 



60 
In the late 1800s, immigrants of Irish and German origin began to assert their 
influence at the voting booth. Many members of Congress from Western states owned 
their position to the support of German immigrants. The Irish Catholic vote in Eastern 
cities also had to be considered by politicians when they formulated immigration policy. 
In 1891, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge took up a proposal that would restrict the 
immigration of all males who could not read or write in their own language. German- 
American lobby groups were able to thwart these restrictive legislative efforts. The 
Senate passed the legislation, but the House of Representatives kept postponing 
consideration of it (Higham 1971, 106-107). 

The eugenic movement and scientific racism at the dawn of the 20th century 
sought to recast the distinctions among the immigrants of Europe origin. William J. 
Ripley, who taught economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and lectured at 
Columbia University on the role of geography in human affairs, wrote a weighty tome in 
1 899 titled The Races of Europe . His analysis linked physiological traits to geographical 
and social conditions. John Higham relates in his classic text Strangers in the Land : 

For the first time, American readers learned that Europe was not the land of 
"Aryans" or Goths subdivided into vaguely national races such as the Anglo- 
Saxons, but rather the seat of three races discernable by physical measurements: a 
northern race of tall, blond longheads which Ripley called Teutonic; a central race 
of stocky roundheads which he called Alpine; and a southern race of slender, dark, 
longheads which he called Mediterranean. (Higham 1971, 154) 9 



9 The absurdity of Ripply's classification system is apparent when one understands 
that Europe is the polyglot par excellence. The people of Europe have been associating 
for thousands of years to an extent that would disallow any type tripartite evolution. 
Mediterranean peoples called Romans conquered lands as far north as the British Isles. 
Norsemen or Vikings journeyed as far east as modern Russia and as far south as modern 
Italy and Spain. 



61 

Ripley's tripartite classification allowed for the distinction between new and old immigrant 
groups. Irish and German immigrants were reclassified as Teutonic along with the Anglo- 
Saxon English. New Italian and Eastern European immigrants were reclassified as 
"others" with the labels of Alpine and Mediterranean. Nevertheless, this classification was 
not an enduring structure in the United States and instead a new type of identity 
developed. Toward the end of the 19th century we find in the United States the 
development of the Euro- American identity or White America. This is an identity 
constructed in contrast to the hyphenation of Americans of immigrant origin. Early in the 
20th century we find the development of the melting pot idea of American identity. 

Frederick Jackson Turner, in his famous 1893 essay on the importance of the 
frontier in U.S. history, saw the formation of a composite nationality of American people. 
Turner declared, "In the crucible of the frontier the immigrants were Americanized, 
liberated, and fused into a mixed race, English in neither nationality nor characteristics" 
(Turner 1947, 23). A new type of identity, an American, was formed in the crucible of the 
melting pot. However, this identity extended only to those who could easily be 
incorporated under the Euro- American identity. 10 The melting pot idea did not apply to 
peoples who originated from continents other than Europe. Legal restrictions on 
immigrants from non-European parts of the world were enforced and state governments 
restricted nonwhites in most parts of the United States from participation in the civil 
society, such as the Tun Crow laws applied to African-Americans in the South. 



,0 It should be noted that Israel ZangwilTs 1909 play The Melting Pot from which 
the term was derived, was about the amalgamation of European ethnic groups in the 
United States. 






62 
Typical of the sentiments of the time, Henry Pratt Fairchild in The Melting Pot 
Mistake (1926) argued for the inevitability of a homogenous community given his belief in 
the biological origins of racial hatred. 11 Fairchild ([1926] 1977, 239) declared that "Racial 
discrimination is inherent in biological fact and in human nature." Fairchild's work 
provides a snapshot of the broader normative structure in the U.S. at the time. He argued 
that assimilation, or the idea of the melting pot, worked but only for those peoples of the 
"White Race." Fairchild writes: 

At the present time, the average American, whatever his origin, has become 
habituated to representatives of almost every variety of the white race that it is 
very doubtful whether there is more than an infinitesimal amount of true race 
antipathy felt toward any branches of the white race in this country ... If we see a 
tall, blue-eyed, blond giant leading up to the altar a sparkling brunette with dusky 
hair and darkly glowing cheeks we do not ordinarily bewail the horrible case of 
race miscegenation, but exclaim, "What a stunning couple!" (Fairchild [1926] 
1977, 72-73) 

For Fairchild, the mixing of peoples from different "racial" backgrounds is analogous to 

"pouring together various chemically inert liquids - water, milk, wine, ink, ect." (Fairchild 

[1926] 1977, 1 19). This creates a mixture but not a new substance. The inclusion of a 

mixed racial structure in the U.S. (i.e., non European) diluted the "typical American 

mixture" (Fairchild [1926] 1977, 130). Thus, Fairchild argued not only for a reduction of 

immigration, but for a reapportionment of immigration to "leave the racial proportion of 

American people intact" (Fairchild [1926] 1977, 131). Writing in the early 20th century, 

Fairchild argued for a Euro- American identity. "There can be no doubt that if America is 

to remain a stable nation it must continue a white man's country for an indefinite period to 



"Fairchild graduated from Yale where he studied under William Graham Sumner 
and later achieved the presidency of the American Sociological Society. 



63 

come" (Fairchild [1926] 1977, 240). Fairchild applauded the permanent exclusion of 
Asian immigration to the United States. 

Fairchild's argument viewed from the position of the early 21st century appears 
alien and atavistic. The United States has experienced a massive shift in norms regarding 
political and civil rights and a reshaping of its identity. The United States has rid itself of 
the notion that the American identity synonymous with White European, or the Euro- 
American identity that characterized American society for much of the 20th century. A 
steady growth of tolerance has developed in the United States since the end of the Second 
World War. This growth of tolerance and acceptance of others extends not only to ethnic 
and racial groups, but it also included the expanded acceptance of the equality of women 
with men. What has emerged is a multicultural American identity. 

Social Movements and Identity Change 

Social movements are pivotal in identity change. A social movement refers to a 
relational network of actors who are collectively involved in broader purposes and/or 
conflicts (Diani 1992; Tarrow 1994). These continuous, large-scale, organized, collective 
actions can lead to transformed state structures (Quadagno 1992) or to broader societal 
change (d'Anjou 1996). If we describe human history as a concurrence of events, as Max 
Weber maintained, we must remain sensitive to social movements as they shape the 
direction of events. Human actions shape the direction of history. According to Weber, 
"frequently the 'world images' that have been created by ideas have, like switchmen [at 
railroad junctions], determined the tracks along which action has been pushed by the 
dynamic of interest" (quoted in Hall 1993, 48). Social movements may serve as a decisive 



64 
moment in the process of changing norms. We can view social movements as Weber's 
switchmen operating the "switch in the 'choice' between reproducing or transforming the 
extant cultural and social system" (d'Anjou 1996, 35). 

The Civil Rights movement has had a significant impact on the normative structure 
in the United States. The American Civil War ended the institution of slavery, but did not 
end institutional racism. With the close of reconstruction in 1877 and the withdrawal of 
federal troops from the South, whites regained power and established racial segregation 
and laws that denied African- American's their civil and political rights. In Plessy v. 
Ferguson (1896) the U.S. Supreme Court gave its endorsement to the system of American 
Apartheid. 

Meanwhile, African-American leaders began to emerge and organize for civil 
rights. At a meeting in Niagara Falls, in 1905, WEB. Du Bois and other civil rights 
leaders founded the Niagara Movement. Members of the Niagara group connected with 
concerned liberal and radical whites to establish the National Association for the 
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1910. The NAACP journal Crisis, edited 
by Du Bois, became an effective organ of communication for African- American rights. 
The NAACP pursued a strategy of litigation "as a way of testing and shaping public 
opinion which could facilitate policy change ..." (Stewart 1991, 169). The NAACP won 
its first major legal case in 1915, when the United States Supreme Court outlawed the 
"grandfather clause," a constitutional device used in the South to disfranchise blacks. 

The battle for civil rights went forward in the 1940s and 1950s in determined and 
deliberate steps. In the courts the NAACP successfully attacked racially restrictive 



65 
covenants in housing, segregation in interstate transportation, and discrimination in public 
recreational facilities (see Bell 1987). 12 In 1954, the Supreme Court issued one of its most 
significant rulings. With Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, the court overturned 
the "separate but equal" ruling of 1896 and outlawed segregation in the country's school 
systems. 

After, Brown v. Board of Education the struggle for civil rights became a political 
movement. African- Americans organized nonviolent action and the movement achieved 
its first major success in the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott of 1955-56. The 
Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was established in 1957 under Martin 
Luther King Jr's leadership. Other groups organized to fight for civil rights included the 
Congress for Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating 
Committee (SNCC). Together these groups held demonstrations, led boycotts, and 
undertook voter registration drives (see Morris 1984). Public opinion turned against 
segregation as the national attention focused on Birmingham, Alabama in the Spring of 
1963. The Birmingham authorities used dogs and fire hoses on a peaceful march of civil 
rights demonstrators. Police officers shown attacking peaceful protesters with dogs and 
cattle prods provoked horror and disbelief across the country. 

Civil rights activities in 1963 peaked with a march on Washington where King 
addressed a gathering of 250,000 demonstrators. The march helped galvanize public 
opinion that civil rights were the most important problem facing the country and helped 



12 The Supreme Court dealt a blow to perpetrators of racially segregated housing 
areas when it held in Shelley v Kramer (334 U.S. 1, 1948) and Hurd V. Hodge (334 U.S. 
24, 1948) that privately executed restrictive covenants were unenforceable in the courts. 



66 
secure the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Survey data indicate that the 

percentage of Americans saying that the issue of civil rights was the most important 
problem facing the country rose more than forty-five percentage points from 1963 to 1964 
(Fiorina and Peterson 1998, 560). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbade discrimination in 
voting, public accommodations, and employment and permitted the attorney general of the 
United States to deny federal funds to local agencies that practiced discrimination. The 
ratification of the 24th Amendment to the Constitution in 1964, which banned the poll tax, 
helped efforts to increase African-American voter turnouts. Attacks against civil rights 
demonstrators continued by police who used tear gas and clubs, however, the cause 
garnered national support. Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which 
abolished all discriminatory qualifying tests for voter registrants and provided for the 
appointment of federal registrars. 

The narrative provided above suggests progress toward equality for 
African-Americans in the United States. Some scholars contend that such a portrayal 
suggests an inevitability of progress toward equality in the United States (Klinker and 
Smith 1999). Mary Dudziak (2000) argues that the Cold War, and necessity of the United 
States to maintain a positive image in the world to claim its leadership in the "free world," 
compelled political leaders to advance civil rights. "The need to address international 
criticism gave the federal government an incentive to promote social change at home" 
(Dudziak 2000, 12). The implication of this argument is that with the end of the Cold 
War no incentive to promote civil rights exists, possibly leading to a retraction of hard- 
fought gains. 



67 
This argument comports with Philip Klinker and Rogers Smith's (1999) important 
work The Unsteady March The authors contend that racial equality in the United States 
has moved at an unstable pace, at times moving forward and other falling back. Like 
Dudziak, Klinker and Smith emphasize the importance of external threats to the 
advancement of civil rights. Progress in racial equality has come only 

1. in the wake of a large scale war requiring extensive economic and military 
mobilization of African- Americans for success: 

2. when the nature of America's enemies has prompted American leaders to justify 
such wars and their attendant sacrifices by emphasizing the nations inclusive, 
egalitarian, and democratic traditions; and 

3. when the nation has possessed domestic political protest movements willing 
and able to bring pressure upon national leaders to live up to that justificatory 
rhetoric by instituting domestic reform (Klinker and Smith 1999, 3-4). 

Following these criteria, we find only three eras of significant progress. The first era 
followed the Revolutionary War that saw slavery in the northern states put on a path of 
extinction. The second era was the reconstruction period after the Civil War. The third 
era of reform occurred following World War II and during the Cold War. The years 1941 
to 1968 marked an extraordinarily prolonged period in which all three factors were 
present. Following the first and second eras the authors document extended periods of 
retraction of civil rights for African- Americans. "Hence the normal experience of the 
typical black person in U.S. history has been to live in a time of stagnation and decline in 
progress toward racial equality" (Klinker and Smith 1999, 5). 



68 
Like Dudziak, Klinker and Smith pessimistically expect a retrenchment now that 
the Cold War has ended. Granted, more can be done for racial equality in the United 
States, but it is impossible, given the changes that have occurred, for any regression in 
civil and political rights. As I will show below the basic normative structure has changed 
and today Americans no longer think and feel the same. The civil rights movement of the 
1950s and 1960s helped foster an increased respect for the political and civil rights of not 
only African- Americans but of other groups such as Latinos and Asian- Americans. 
Legislative, judicial and constitutional advancement made by the civil rights movements 
applies to all groups including women. 

One major problem with Klinker and Smith's analysis is a singular focus on 
African-Americans. Opposition to affirmative action programs as they are now 
constructed does not necessarily suggest an opposition to civil and political rights or 
opposition to racial equality. For example, in California recent referendums ending 
affirmative action and bilingual education had wide support among Hispanics. Hispanic 
residents of California saw these referendums as attempts to dismantle obstacles to 
assimilation into America (Economist April 7, 2001, U.S. Edition). Also, the California 
affirmative action programs in higher education adversely affected many Asian-Americans. 

According the most recent census, the United States is becoming a majority 
minority country. This means that no single group represents the majority of the 
population. Those who categorize themselves as "white" will eventually represent less 
than half the country's population. Hispanics have already achieved parity with 



69 
African- Americans as the largest minority group in the United States (Schmitt 2001, 20). 13 
The 2000 census for the first time allowed for the category of multiracial. Nearly seven 
million people, or 2.4 percent of the total population described themselves as multiracial 
marking a trend that suggests that a single group identification may be losing importance. 
The 1960s and early 1970s marked a period of intense social change in the United 
States that reconstructed American society. James Gilbert (1981) in Another Chance 
argues that the postwar period between 1945 and 1968 represents a distinct period in U.S. 
social and political history. The period witnessed changes in the family structure and 
social mores. The development of television changed the role of the media and the impact 
of advertising. These changes led to the development of mass culture, which changed the 
nature of social and political relations. In the early 1960s the major television networks 
produced the first half hour evening news programs (White 1 982, 1 72- 1 73). The 
development of the national news program gave large audiences access to stories across 
the country, exposing events and forcing politicians to deal with issues that they would not 
have chosen to handle. "More importantly, shifts in attitudes of women, blacks, and other 
minorities toward their own rights, and the general acceptance of these claims by the rest 
of society, allowed a minority of black Americans to enter the middle strata of 
employment and freed the vast majority from restrictions that had bound them since the 



13 The Hispanic population grew 58 percent to 35.3 million people since 1990. The 
non-Hispanic white population dropped to 69 percent from 76 percent a decade ago. This 
trend is expected to continue. Non-Hispanic whites are now a minority in California and 
may soon be in Texas. 



70 
beginning of the century" (Gilbert 1981, 5). 

I have discussed the importance of the Civil Rights Movement. Other groups were 
active during this period including Latinos and native Americans and women. In 1969, the 
Stonewall riots in New York launched the Gay rights movement. Against the backdrop of 
these social movements, the Antiwar movement grew starting in 1965 when President 
Johnson escalated the war in Vietnam by sending in the 9th Marine Expeditionary Brigade 
to defend the air bases at Da Nang. U.S. troop levels rose from 23,000 in 1964 to more 
than 180,000 in 1965. U.S. military strength peaked in 1968 with more than 500,000 
personnel in South Vietnam (Bonds 1979, 12-13). 

Both the SNCC and CORE opposed U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War as 
early as 1966. In 1967, Martin Luther King publically voiced his opposition to the war in 
Vietnam and in some sense linked the civil rights and antiwar movements together. On 
February 25, 1967, with speech at a fund-raising dinner, King began to make the 
connection between the civil rights and antiwar movement. King declared that "we are 
engaged in a war that seeks to turn the clock of history back and perpetuate white 
colonialism." He further implored that "we must combine the fervor of the civil rights 
movement with the peace movement. We must demonstrate, teach and preach until the 
very foundations of our nation shake" (quoted in Levy 1999, 318). 

In no sense should we assume that the social movements of the 1960s and early 
1970s were integrated and coordinated in a collective desire to change the American 
identity. Some groups were hostile to each other, such as some civil rights groups and 



71 
women's groups. 14 Hardly did these movements achieve all the goals they set for 

themselves. Nevertheless, these multiple social movements created a period of societal 

change that shifted the normative structure of the United States and ushered in a growth 

of tolerance for religious, cultural, and ethnic diversity. 

Multicultural and Tolerant America 

In this chapter, I argue that social movements have led to changes in the general 

normative structure of the United States regarding political and civil rights. In the 

following section I provide some evidence to support this assertion. I use polling date 

measuring public opinion on issues regarding race, religion and gender. 15 I draw the data 

from the Gallup Organization and from the American National Election Studies , which 

measure mass opinion. 16 For the most part, shifts in mass opinion have mirrored shifts in 



14 In 1964 SNCC leader Stokely Carmichael joked the "the only position for women 
in SNCC is prone" (Evans 1989, 282). The women's movement, made up predominately 
of white women, was viewed with suspicion by those in the Civil Rights movement. 

15 For the most part, I have focused on the issue of racial ethnic and gender norms 
regarding civil and political rights. I choose to include the questions regarding religion 
since religion has been used to define groups as separate and distinct. A long tradition of 
anti-Catholicism and anti-Semitism existed in the United States (see Higham 1971). 
However, it appears that with the development of the Euro- American identity these 
distinctions are less important. Jews and Catholics are grouped with the Protestant sects 
as followers of a Judeo-Christian tradition. 

16 Gallup provides polling result extending back to 1935. The Gallup Organization 
published most of these results in The Gallup Poll: Public Opinion 1935-1971 . 3 vols. The 
accuracy of the data in these volumes has been confirmed from the original surveys by 
William G. Mayer in The Changing American Mind (1992). Gallup data after 1971 is 
drawn from the annual updates through 1999. The University of Michigan conducts the 
American National Election Studies (NES). These surveys are based on representative 
samples of citizens of voting age, living in private homes. Interviewing for this series was 
first done after the election of 1948 and has been conducted before and after every 
presidential election since 1952. NES data used in this study can be found at 



72 
elites' attitudes (Zaller 1992, 1 1). Since I am trying to gauge changes in societal norms, I 
have chosen to rely on measures of mass opinion. The data that I present represents the 
same questions asked repeatedly over the years. This allows for an estimation in long- 
term changes and general trends. 

We are trying to understand societal norms. Recall, that norms are culturally 
defined rules of conduct and specify appropriate behavior. The Pettit (1993) definition 
stated above suggests that a regular behavior becomes a norm when an overwhelming 
majority of the population approves of the behavior. How do we define an overwhelming 
majority? In an assessment of the public opinion's impact of public policy, Thomas 
Graham (1994) finds that the magnitude of public support determines the degree of public 
influence. 17 Attitudes held by less than 50 percent of the public rarely influences public 
policy. A majority opinion (50-59 percent) can shape public policy, but only with strong 
policy leadership. At this level of support fertile ground exists for counter attacks by 
political opposition. 

Consensus level public opinion (60-69 percent) successfully influences the policy 
process even if powerful bureaucratic interests have to be overruled. Preponderant 
level public opinion (70 to 79 percent) not only "causes" the political system to act 
according to its dictates but also deters political opposition from challenging a 
specific decision. Nearly unanimous opinion (80 + percent) sweeps all political 
opposition away, dominating the entire political system so that decision appear to 
be automatic (Graham 1994, 196). 



http://www.umich.edu/~nes/nesguide. 



17 Graham develops his divisions based on a review of data from more than five 
hundred national surveys and an examination of primary documents from seven 
presidential administrations. 



73 
Using Graham's finding on public opinion and public policy, in analyzing the 

following data when a response to a question surpasses 60 percent we can consider it as 
an indicator of a societal norm. When opposition to a position drops below 30 percent, 
we assume that society generally accept the norm. Some contend that people lie on public 
opinion surveys. This does not influence our understanding of the societal norm. The 
pressure is on individuals to conform to the societal norms. If an individual knew that 
his/her personal opinion did not reflect the broader societal norm they would be inclined to 
make their response match the societal norm. For example, one might contend that all 
men are misogynists and chauvinists, however, if the broader societal norms say that 
women should have an equal role we will find the preponderance of men responding that 
women should have an equal role despite their immediate beliefs. The same applies for 
issues of race or religion. 18 

The survey data strongly suggest that it has become less acceptable for Americans 
overly to take in to account characteristics of race, gender or religious preferences in their 
electoral decisions. In 1937, the Gallup Organization began asking Americans their 
willingness to vote for a presidential candidate with various demographic and religious 
characteristics. Over the years the question has taken the following form: If your party 



18 My discussion of religious tolerance has been limited. The United States is said 
to have been founded on religious freedom. However, one must recall that dissenting 
religious groups that immigrated to colonial America came only for their own religious 
freedom and not to promote tolerance for all religions. For most of U.S. history the 
Protestant forms of Christianity have been the accepted form for the American identity. 
Some scholars such as Samuel Huntington still consider it to be the prevailing religious 
form structuring the American identity (see Huntington 1997). Nevertheless, with the 
development of the Euro- American identity Catholicism and the Jewish faith have 
constituted the American identity with the so-called, Judeo-Christian tradition. 



74 
nominated a generally well-qualified person for President and he happened to be 

, would you vote for him? The willingness to vote for a candidate for 

president of a certain demographic background provides a strong indicator of prejudice in 
the United States. The Presidency is the top elected post in the United States and with the 
role as head of state provides the symbolic representation of the United States. Who 
Americans feel comfortable within that office can provide an indicator of how the broader 
society views itself. When an individual from a certain background is elected president, 
conventional wisdom suggests that the general population feel comfortable with that 
individual's background. For example, when Ronald Regan was elected president in 1980, 
pundits and commentators said that the American public had fully accepted the idea of 
divorces. Although Reagan had been married to his second wife Nancy for many years by 
the time of the campaign, some questioned the willingness of the electorate to vote for 
someone who had been married more than once. The issue turned out to be irrelevant to 
the election. This being the case, we can use the willingness to vote for an individual for 
president for a certain background as a barometer for societal norms regarding that 
characteristic. 

Figure 1 shows support for a Catholic presidential candidate. Alfred E. Smith was 
the first Catholic who ran for the office of president. In the election of 1928 Smith 
received 41 percent of the popular vote and lost the election to Herbert Hoover, however, 
by 1937, 60 percent of those polled said that they would vote for a Catholic presidential 
candidate. In 1960, with the election of the first Catholic President, John F. Kennedy, 
opposition had fallen below 30 percent making it socially acceptable to vote for a Catholic 



75 
for President. These trends have continued to the point where Catholicism is no longer an 
issue for the American electorate. 

Much media excitement occurred in 2000 with Senator Lieberman's nomination for 
vice-president as the first Jewish candidate for that office. However, from figure 2 we see 
that by 1960, 70 percent of those surveyed said they would have support a Jewish 
presidential candidate. This trend continues through the 1960s reaching a peak of 92 
percent in 1999. Figure 1 and 2 suggest that by 1960 a candidate's religious association 
was not a major issue. 19 U.S. society inculcated a tolerance for religious diversity. 
Although religious diversity appears acceptable for Americans, societal norms still strongly 
insist that a presidential candidate hold some type of religious belief. In 1958, only 18 
percent of those polled said they would vote for an atheist for president, while 75 percent 
said they would not. By 1978 this disparity had decreased to 40 percent saying yes and 53 
percent saying no. In the latest survey in 1999, only 49 percent of those polled said that 



,9 The absence of a question of the Islamic faith suggests a bias against that 
religion. An area for further study is to what extent does an anti-Islamic bias shape U.S. 
relation with Muslim countries? 



76 



100 



30 

20 

10 





Would you support a Catholic for president? 




N^. 



''"l.lH"'!,,,,!!" '»!,, "^ -m. 

""•II ...... »,,*•* 



37 40 55 56 58 59 60 61 63 65 67 69 78 83 99 

year 



Yes 



Source: Gallup 
■ — No 



■ 1 1 1 1 1 1 no opinion 



Support for a Catholic Presidential Candidate 
Figure 1 






77 



100 



Would you support a Jewish candidate for President? 




37 58 59 61 63 65 67 69 78 83 87 99 

year 



Yes 



Source: Gallup 
■ ■■ No • no opinion 



Support for a Jewish Presidential Candidate 
Figure 2 



78 
they would vote for a well-qualified person from their party if that person happened to be 

an atheist, while 48 percent said they would not. This falls short of the 60 percent support 
or less than 30 percent voicing resistance to an issue for it to be considered a norm. In 
the United States it is no longer considered correct behavior to discriminate against 
someone for their religious belief, but doing it is acceptable if an individual does not hold a 
religious belief. 

When it comes to political choices and the growth of tolerance for African- 
Americans, the civil rights movement clearly shows its influence. Figure 3 confirms these 
dramatic results. The Gallup organization did not even consider asking whether anyone 
would be inclined to vote for a well-qualified black candidate until 1958. In that year only 
37 percent said yes, while 53 percent responded no. The dramatic changes in 40 years 
show that by 1999, 95 percent said that they would vote for an African- American for 
president. As the 20th century closes only 4 percent of those polled said that they would 
not vote for an African-American for president. Examining figure 3 we see that those 
responding that they would support an African-American for president passes the 60 
percent point by 1969. Resistance to an African- American candidate also drops below the 
30 percent level in the same year. Following 1969 those responding yes only increases, 
while negative responses continue to decline. For African- Americans, 1969 clearly marks 
the point at which the societal norms change and that prejudice against African- Americans 
in one's political choice is no longer acceptable. 

The decline in prejudice against women has followed a similar pattern to African- 
Americans (see figure 4). In 1937, only 37 percent of those polled said that they would 



79 
vote for a well-qualified female candidate for president. It is not until 1955 that support 
rises above resistance, yet still below the level needed to make it normatively acceptable. 
Figure 4 suggests that 1971 is a key year with support rising above the 60 percent 
threshold and opposition falling below the 30 percent level. As with the willingness to 
support an African-American presidential candidate, the willingness to support a woman 
follows the turbulence of the 1960s with the civil rights and woman's liberation movement. 
Over the next 30 years, support for a woman presidential candidate climbs steadily, 
reaching more than 90 percent by 1999. 

Homosexuals as a group lag far behind others in societal acceptance. In 1978, 
when the question was first asked by Gallup, only 26 percent of those polled said that they 
would vote for a well-qualified homosexual for president. In 1999, the percentage 
responding yes had risen to 59 percent, however, 37 percent said that they would not vote 
for a homosexual. This level of resistance strongly suggests that Americans do not accept 
homosexuals in the broader society. Interestingly, with 59 percent saying that they would 
vote for a homosexual for president, homosexuals stand roughly in the same position that 
African- Americans did in the United States in 1965. 



80 



30 

20 

10 





Would You Support a Black Presidential Candidate? 




— , — , — , — , — , — , , , , , , -ZigL ; 



58 59 61 63 65 67 69 71 78 83 84 87 97 99 

Year 



Yes 



Source: Gallup 
■ ■■ No 



1 1 1 1 1 1 1 no opinion 



Support for a Black Presidential Candidate 
Figure 3 



100 



20 

10 





^r. 



81 



Would you support a wo man preside ntial cand id ate? 




%% ''iiimiiini,,, i*** 1 ' " ' 1 1 in i n niiif i ti mi 1 1 1 ■/. 

, , , , , , . 'jl 



45 



55 



59 



67 



71 78 84 99 



37 49 58 63 69 75 83 87 

Source: Gallup 
Yes ■■ mm No i no opinion 



Support for a Woman Presidential Candidate 
Figure 4 



82 
To display this general growth of tolerance in American society, we need to look 
to other indicators. In figure 5, we see a continued growth since 1972 in the percentage 
of those who believe that women should have an equal role in society. 20 In figure 6, when 
questioned on school integration we find that by 1968, more than 70 percent believed that 
white students and black students should go to the same schools. By 1972, resistance to 
school integration had dropped to 14 percent. Figure 7 graphs the responses of those who 
approve or disapprove of marriage between whites and non whites. In the period from 
1958 to 1991, the percentage of those who said they disapprove drops 52 percentage 
points. Finally in figure 8, when surveyors asked whites if they would move if blacks 
came to live in their neighborhood, 50 percent said yes in 1958. In 1967, those 



20 The text of the question asked is as follows: "Some people feel that women 
should have an equal role with men in running business, industry and government. Others 
feel that a woman's place is in the home. Where would you place yourself on this scale or 
haven't you thought much about this?" Respondents were asked to rate their answers on a 
7-points scale with 1 being an equal role and 7 indicating that a woman's place is in the 
home. For figure 5, 1 coded a response of l,2,or 3 as equal role and 5, 6, or 7 as Women's 
place is in the home. I did not graph a response of 4, which consistently ranged between 
1 1 and 21 percent or a response of don't know, which averaged 6.3 percent over the 
years. 



83 



100 

90 

80 

70 

,60 

> 50 

40 

30 

20 

10 





Should women have an equal role in society with men? 



I 







V ~ 



i i 1 r 



72 74 76 78 80 82 84 88 90 92 94 96 98 

year 

Source: NES 

■<■■■■ Equal Role 

— — Woman's Place in the Home 



Support for an Equal Role for Women 
Figure 5 






84 






Do you think white students and black students should go to the same schools? 



100 



1 








ll "''iHiH"'""iniiiiiiiiiii,,||iiiiiiii nm i ,, 



42 56 63 64 65 68 70 72 76 77 80 82 84 85 

year 

Source: NORC in (Mayer 1992, 369) 
same ^™ ■■■ seperate ■ > ■ • " " « dont know 



Support for Integrated Schools 
Figure 6 



85 



Do you approve or disapprove of marriage between whites and non-whites? 



100 
90 
80 
70 
60 








«^\ ,,,,.» . ■■'■ ■ ■ ■" ■ ",,,,,,, 

% i * ' 



1958 1968 1972 1978 1983 1991 

year 



Approve 



Source: Gallup 
1 ■■■ Disapprove » » » « • » • No opinion 



Support for "Mixed" Marriage 
Figure 7 



86 



100 



Would you move if black people came to live in your neighborhood? 




1958 1963 1965 1966 1967 1978 1990 



yes 



Source: Gallup 
■■••• might ■ < ■ ■ • > ■ no 



Support for Integrated Neighborhoods 
Figure 8 






87 
responding positively had dropped to 40 percent. By 1990, 68 percent said that they 
would not move if blacks came to live in their neighborhood in significant numbers. 

From the survey data reviewed above we can suggest that since the early 1970s, 
America is reaching a multicultural identity. Multiculturalism is an empirical and social 
reality, not some elite conspiracy as some have claimed. 21 The survey evidence supports 
the thesis that the American identity has changed, becoming more inclusive of groups once 
shunned from the mainstream political and social culture. To support this finding further, 
I briefly provide evidence from two very different venues, presidential cabinets and 
television. 

The composition of presidential cabinets also serves as an indicator for changing 
norms regarding diversity and the development of a multicultural identity. When 
President Clinton first took office in 1993, he wanted a Cabinet that looked like America. 
That is, he stated that he wanted a Cabinet made-up of more than white men. Clinton 
followed a pattern that had begun with President Johnson. Johnson appointed Robert C. 
Weaver, the first African- American to hold a cabinet level post, as Secretary of Housing 
and Urban Development in 1966. The administration of George W. Bush has continued 
and expanded this practice to such an extent that it goes without question that a 



21 Michael Lind (1995) argues that it is a mistake to assume that multiracial is 
synonymous with multicultural. For Lind, the United States can be multiracial without 
being multicultural. Lind maintains that the white overclass perpetuate the multicultural 
idea and buy social peace through affirmative action and tokenism. Lind further argues 
that the white overclass have pitted the white underclass against minority groups to 
maintain their position. Lind argues for something he calls a Liberal Nationalism that is "a 
cultural melting pot, and ultimately a racial melting pot" (1995, 298). Nevertheless, his 
insistence on American English leads one to suspect his idea is some reformation of White 
Euro- America. 



88 
presidential cabinet will be diverse. In fact, the entire Bush administration is more racially 
diverse and contains more women than the Clinton administration. 

In the post World War II era television has had a strong impact on the American 
society. The content of television programs can also help gauge societal norms regarding 
political and civil rights and a tolerance for diversity. Henry J. Perkinson in Getting 
Better: Television and Moral Progress , argues that the content of television programs has 
lead to social progress. It is likely that the causal relationship is reversed and television 
programming reflects progress in society. If this is the case, changes in televison serve as 
an indicator of normative change. 22 

One of the first television shows to feature African- Americans was Amos and 
Andy, which first premiered on June 28, 1951 (Blum 1959, 98). The program aired as 
radio show for 20 years in which white actors portrayed African- Americans in a 
stereotypical fashion. On the TV version African-Americans played the roles, but still in 
the stereotypical fashion. Television programs portrayed African- Americans as lazy, 
dumb, and dishonest (Lichter et al. 1994, 336). 

In the mid-1960s the portrayal of racial minorities underwent major changes and 
the "proportion of non-northern European roles doubled over the next decade" (Lichter et 
al. 1994, 339). African-Americans moved into starring roles playing strong and 
competent characters in such shows as I Spy and Mission Impossible . By the 1970s, 
shows featuring African- Americans were numerous and varied from comedies like Sanford 



22 There is also the possibility of reciprocal causation in which the values of the 
explanatory variable are determined, at least in part, by the dependent variable (see King, 
Keohane, and Verba 1994). 



89 
and Son and The Jeffersons to the epic drama and history of one family's tribulations 
through slavery, Roots . By the 1980s, televison portrayed African- Americans on The 
Cosby Show as successful with the father as a medical doctor and the mother a lawyer. 
The portrayal of African- Americans has changed dramatically over the years. Today, 
imagining a show like Amos and Andv on a network's prime time lineup is difficult. Other 
minority groups such as Hispanics and Asian Americans show up in television programs in 
ever increasing numbers and with non-stereotypical portrayals. 

Conclusion 
Today, Americans generally tolerate diversity and understand that the United 
States is not a homogeneous society racially or ethnically. The overwhelming majority of 
the American people accept gender equality. More women attend college than men. Even 
conservative Christian groups like the Southern Baptists, who claim male leadership as a 
tenant of faith, are finding dissent among their ranks. 23 Despite some latent prejudice, 
racism, and chauvinism, overt discrimination is not widely accepted. In a multicultural 
America acceptance of diversity is what all Americans share. Globalization or the 
expansion of economic, political, social and cultural relations across borders is an idea that 
has gained widespread endorsement among academics and policymakers. This 



In October 2000 the largest single component, the Baptist organization in Texas, 
declared financial independence from the Southern Baptist Conference (SBC). Arguing 
that the convention had become authoritarian, the Texans decided that the more than $5 
million they had been sending to Southern Baptist seminaries would be better spent on 
projects in Texas. The primary issue of divergence was the SBC's recent stands calling on 
women to be submissive to their husbands and forbidding women pastors (Lampman 
2000, 15). 



90 
intensification of interaction is not only a global phenomenon, but it has been national as 
well. Regional cultures exist in the United States, however, the United States has seen an 
infusion of various cultures throughout the broader society. American society is more 
tolerant and respectful of this diversity. The violation of an individual's civil or political 
rights due to their racial or ethnic background is no longer socially acceptable. The norms 
have changed. Norms that govern domestic policy are the same norms that direct foreign 
policy. The next chapter begins an investigation of the promotion of human rights in U.S. 
foreign policy. We will see that the changes in domestic norms translates into changes in 
foreign policy. 



CHAPTER 4 
HUMAN RIGHTS IN U.S. FOREIGN POLICY 

Introduction 

In the previous chapter, I tried to establish that norms regarding political and civil 
rights in the United States have changed. In this chapter it is my task to show that these 
changes correspond to changes in U.S. foreign policy. The foreign policy issue I examine 
is U.S. policy toward human rights. Recall that this study looks at the promotion of 
democracy as U.S. foreign policy. Changing support for human rights represents a 
changing perception of the nature of democracy. First, I begin with an analysis of 
presidential rhetoric, drawn for the most part from inaugural addresses, and show the 
changing status of democracy and human rights in presidential speeches. 1 An analysis of 
presidential rhetoric provides us an understanding of the general U.S. foreign policy 
orientation. As we will see, it does not provide the indicator for change in policy 
orientation toward the promotion of democracy and human rights. The executive branch 
lags behind the legislative branch in reflecting the change in domestic norms. Next, I 
examine the changing position of human rights in U.S. foreign policy in the post World 
War II period. I use contextual evidence and I utilize the last twenty five years of 
quantitative scientific research on the relationship between U.S. foreign assistance and the 



'Since the inaugural is the first speech a president makes, it can provide the 
touchstone of that president's term in office. 



91 



92 
violation of human rights by recipient countries. Researchers have not integrated or 

assessed this literature longitudinally through any theoretical lense. The evidence suggests 

that U.S. foreign policy has changed with that change taking place in 1970s. This change 

occurs concurrently with the change in domestic norms that produced the new 

multicultural American identity identified in the previous chapter. 

Presidential Rhetoric 

Presidents of the United States have for the most part conformed to the rhetoric of 

idealism in their foreign policy principles. Words like democracy and freedom often adorn 

their public speeches. American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States represents 

a special phenomenon in the history of the world, clearly resounds in presidential inaugural 

addresses. This has caused Henry Kissinger to lament the triumph of Wilsonian idealism 

in America's singular approach to international affairs. Kissinger relates that "[djuring the 

course of the twentieth century, one president after another proclaimed that America had 

no 'selfish' interests [the only goal] was universal peace and progress" (Kissinger 1994, 

621). However, a detectable shift in the presidential rhetoric exists. From Truman to 

Nixon, when presidents spoke of governance in other parts of the world, they judge it as 

each individual country's choice. Like Wilson before them, these presidents appear 

dedicated to the principle of self-determination. In this line of reasoning, democratic 

governance is often limited to particular groups of states. Beginning with President Carter 

and continuing through to the current administration, human rights and democracy is 

couched in universal terms and available to all. In the following section, I analyze 

presidential inaugural addresses from Truman to George W. Bush and show how the 






93 
rhetoric has changed. 

In his inaugural address of January 20, 1949 Harry Truman declared that in the 

U.S. "we believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law . . . " (Truman 1949, 

1 12). For Truman, the American people wanted a world "in which all nations and peoples 

are free to govern themselves as they see fit ... " Despite the argument for 

self-determination, Truman argued that the United States and other "like-minded nations" 

find themselves opposed to the "false philosophy" of communism. He assured the world 

that the U.S. would strengthen "freedom-loving nations" against aggression and provide 

technical and economic assistance to "peace-loving peoples" (Truman 1949, 1 12). 

Granted, Truman made his speech in the context of the Cold War with the world divided 

into camps of good and evil, however, more can be drawn from the rhetoric. Clearly, 

Truman implied that some countries are peace and freedom loving while others are not. 

Eisenhower's inaugural address of 1953 follows this structure with freedom viewed as not 

universally desired. He declared that the United States holds "all continents and peoples in 

equal regard and honor" (Eisenhower 1953, 6). Nevertheless, Eisenhower marked as a 

fixed principle that the U.S. will never use its strength to "impress upon another people 

our own cherished political and economic institutions" (Eisenhower 1953, 5). The 

implication is that some peoples may not want democracy or be capable of it. 

John F. Kennedy offered a slight twist on America idealism. In his inaugural 

address, Kennedy forthrightly declared that the U.S. was "unwilling to witness or permit 

the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been 

committed ..." (Kennedy 1961, 1). To America's "old allies whose cultural and spiritual 






94 
origins" the United States shared, Kennedy declared undying loyalty. To the new states, 
Kennedy promised not to impose control on them, but warned them to maintain their 
freedom. Nevertheless, the freedom he spoke of is not the freedom of democratic 
governance, but freedom from Soviet control. He warned the recently independent states 
to be wary of the Soviet Union, which he equated to a tiger ready to devour them. 
Kennedy said nothing about the self destruction of internal repression. In one aspect of his 
speech, Kennedy appears to proclaim the universality of democracy, but he only extends it 
to those of our "cultural kind" (Kennedy 1961, 1). 

In President Lyndon Johnson's inaugural address we find sweeping language 
calling for domestic tolerance and a quest for justice with a force that no prior president 
had used. For Johnson, justice required Americans not to deny any citizen their rights no 
matter their race or belief. In America, Johnson declared, children "must not go hungry, . 
. . [and] neighbors must not suffer and die untended ..." (Johnson 1965, 72). In foreign 
policy, Johnson's rhetoric applied the same principles abroad in very aggressive terms. He 
wanted to eradicate "tyranny and misery" in the world (Johnson 1965, 73). Sounding 
much like Pope Urban II when he called for the First Crusade, Johnson declared that "[i]f 
American lives must end . . . in countries that we barely know, then that is the price . . . 
of our enduring covenant" (Johnson 1965, 72). The position of democracy and human 
rights in Johnson's crusade is not clear. The crusade in Vietnam was not a crusade for 
democracy. Although the United States fought against a communist and nondemocratic 
regime in the North that had an abysmally poor human rights record, it supported a regime 



95 
with only a minimally better record (Morris 1982). 2 

Richard M. Nixon left no ambiguity in his inaugural address when it came to 
foreign policy. He declared that he wanted negotiation and not confrontation. Nixon 
favored a world open to ideas in which "no people live in angry isolation" (Nixon 1969, 
3). He did not praise democracy nor did he condemn tyranny. Nixon put forward an 
amoral foreign policy. He said "[w]e cannot expect to make everyone our friend, but we 
can try to make no one our enemy." Nixon launched a realist foreign policy devoid of 
concerns of human rights. His rhetoric inferred that all political regimes are morally 
equivalent. Although the first American president to speak openly of realpolitik foreign 
policy, Nixon was in fact the last in a line of post World War II presidents. From Truman 
to Nixon, U.S. Presidents argued for freedom, but freedom only defined in terms of an 
absence of Soviet control. For the most part, these presidents saw democratic governance 
and human rights as a unique product of a certain group of states. 

When Jimmy Carter took the oath of office on January 22, 1977, he became the 
first American president openly to declare human rights as a component of U.S. foreign 
policy. Carter proclaimed that "our commitment to human rights must be absolute [and] 
we must not behave in foreign places so as to violate our rules and standards here at 
home . . . (Carter 1977, 2). In contrast to Nixon, who declared that the United States had 



2 Morris (1982) argues that U.S. intervention in Vietnam does have some moral 
standing when comparing the human rights violations of the North and the South. For 
Morris, although South Vietnam may have been authoritarian and imprisoned people who 
had committed no crimes, it did not reach the totalitarian scale of the North. The North 
Vietnamese engaged in mass executions and interned hundreds of thousands in 
reeducation camps. 



96 
no enemies and only interests, Carter sharply delineated "a clearcut [sic] preference for 

those societies which share an abiding respect for individual human rights" (Carter 1977, 
3). 

Ronald Reagan in his inaugural address appeared to harken back to an earlier time 
when he stated that United States would not "use our friendship to impose on their [other 
states] sovereignty" (Reagan 1981, 3). Unlike Nixon, Reagan did not hesitate to proclaim 
some states as enemies. To the "enemies of freedom," he warned that the American 
people may be reluctant to fight, but they should never misunderstand "our forbearance" 
(Reagan 1981, 3). Many pundits and commentators voiced concern about Reagan's 
commitment to human rights. 3 The president responded in an interview with Walter 
Cronkite in March of 1981 that he though human rights were very much a part of 
American idealism. He suggested that the United States "ought to be more sincere about 
[its] position of human rights." For Reagan, seeking better relations with states like the 
Soviet Union and Cuba while punishing others was hypocritical. Reagan flatly declared 
that the Soviet Union was the greatest violator of human rights (Reagan 1981, 196). By 
the end of Reagan's first year in office he had proclaimed December 10, Human Rights 
Day (Reagan 1981, 1 143). As his rhetoric suggested, Reagan continued with human 
rights as a part of U.S. foreign policy. 



3 See William Raspberry "Single-Minded Anti-Communism" The Washington Post 
February 27, 1981, Al 5; Don Bonker " Human rights: will Reagan learn from Congress?" 
The Christian Science Monitor February 25, 1981, Pg. 23; Jeanne Seymour Whitaker 
"Rights and Realpolitik" The New York Times February 24, 1981. Pg. 19, and Leslie H. 
Gelb "Memorandum to the President" The New York Times January 18, 1981, Pg. 15. 



97 
Presiding over the West's victory of the Cold War, George H. W. Bush declared in 
his inaugural address that the countries of the world were "moving toward democracy 
through the door of freedom" (Bush 1989, 1). Proclaiming the universalism of human 
rights and democracy, President Bush stated that for the first time in history "man does 
not have to invent a system by which to live" (Bush 1989, 1). Democracy and freedom 
have triumphed for post Cold War presidents. William J. Clinton emphasized the 
interdependence of the world with no clear division between the foreign and the domestic. 
Clinton presented America as a leader and a model for the world. The cause of 
democracy was America's cause. He asserted that "[o]ur hopes, our hearts, our hands are 
with those on every continent who are building democracy and freedom" (Clinton 1993, 
2). George W. Bush 4 continued the rhetoric of his predecessors when he said the story of 
America was that of "friend and liberator." Democracy, once the providence of the 
United States, was "taking root in many nations." President Bush assigned a large role for 
the United States in foreign policy. He stated that "[i]f our country does not lead the 
cause of freedom, it will not be led . . . And to all nations, we will speak for the values that 
gave our nation birth." 

Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Policy 
Changing support for human rights represents a changing perception of the nature 
of democracy. Since the end of World War II, U.S. policy has evolved becoming more 
sensitive to the content and quality of political regimes with which it interacts. As with the 



4 The text of President George W. Bush's inaugural address was found at 
http://www. whitehous e.gov/news/inaugural-address html and accessed on March 25 
2001. 



98 
expansion of tolerance domestically, we find that American foreign policy becomes more 

sensitive and concerned with political and civil rights, specifically around the period of the 
1970s. As an analytic device, I break down the post World War II era into successive 
periods characterized by their policy orientation toward human rights. 
Uncertain Support 1945-1953 

The massive scale of human atrocities that flowed from the Second World War 
provoked a global concern for human rights. The drafting of the United Nations charter at 
the San Francisco conference in 1945 saw the inclusion of human rights as a legitimate 
concern of international action. No fewer than seven references to human rights are found 
in the UN Charter (Riggs and Piano 1994, 204). Although the Charter did not develop 
specific legal obligations, it did assert an international interest in the rights of individuals. 
The U.S. foreign policy position on human rights was ambiguous. "The United States 
record on human rights at San Francisco was mixed," writes Kathryn Sikkink. The United 
States supported efforts to include human rights language in the Charter, yet expressed 
concern of possible U.N. infringement on domestic jurisdiction (Sikkink 1993, 147) 5 
The United States supported the nonbinding Universal Declaration of Human 
Rights (1948). However, it also worked to prevent the development of international 
regimes on human rights and authorized a self-denying ordinance of the U.N. Human 
Rights Commission ruling out specific review of state's human rights policies (Forsythe 
1990, 437). 



5 The other major powers including both the Soviet Union and the United Kingdom 
expressed this concern. 



99 
Public policy from the State Department further illustrates this lack of concern for 
human rights and democracy. As a member of the U.S. State Department and director of 
the policy planning staff, George Kennan in 1950, espoused his disdain for Latin America. 
In a memorandum to the Secretary of State, Kennan characterized Latin America as a 
region like no other "in which nature and human behavior could have combined to 
produce a more unhappy and hopeless background for the conduct of human life " 
(Kennan 1976, 600). His description of the Spanish settlers reads as if he lifted from the 
British propaganda of the 1700s. Kennan teaches the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, 
that the "Spaniards came to Latin America as the bearers of a national and cultural 
development which was itself nearing its end; a development in which many of the more 
hopeful origins had already died and little was left but religious fanaticism, a burning, 
frustrated energy, and an addiction to the most merciless cruelty" (Kennan 1976, 601). 
One has to think that Kennan is equating fanaticism with Catholicism. Kennan speaks as if 
the English colonists in North America were not religious fanatics. The colonists in New 
England exhibited deep devotion to their religious convictions. 

Even more disturbing than Kennan's apparent religious bias is his boldfaced, 
unashamed racism. Kennan blames the modern problems of Latin American on the 
interbreeding between the Spanish and the native peoples of in the colonial period. "Here 
is the true illustration of the crimes of the fathers being visited on their progeny; for, as the 
Spanish intermarried with these native peoples the course of whose history had so 
ruthlessly been interrupted, they came to share the scares and weaknesses which they 
themselves had inflicted" (Kennan 1976, 601). For Kennan, the problem of racial mixing 



100 
also extended to Africans. "[I]n Latin America, the large scale importation of Negro 

slave elements into considerable parts of the Spanish and other colonial empires [Portugal 
Brazil], and the extensive intermarriage of all these elements, produced other unfortunate 
results which seemed to have weighed scarcely less heavily on the chances for human 
progress" (Kennan 1976, 601). 

Kennan's racism is striking when viewed from the perspective of the early twenty- 
first century. In the 1950s, however, his views still represented major segments 
throughout the American society. Change was underway, but it had not permeated 
though the broader society or the ruling elites. It would be difficult today imagining any 
secretary of state, much less Colin Powell, decrying racial amalgamation as a culprit in the 
region's problems. 

Kennan's racial and cultural bias extended to his analysis of government for the 
region. Lesser peoples may need repressive governments. Democratic governments for 
Latin America would be nice "[b]ut where they do not exist, and where concepts and 
traditions of popular government are too weak to absorb successfully the intensity of 
communist attack, then we must concede that harsh governmental measures of repression 
may be the only answer; that these measures may have to proceed from regimes whose 
origins and methods would not stand the test of American concepts . . . "(Kennan 1976, 
607). George Kennan's ideas in the late 1940s and early 1950s directly shaped U.S. 
policy. Democracy promotion in non-western, non-European states was not part of the 
agenda. American foreign aid to many countries was not directed at liberalizing political 
structures, but modernizing economically backward countries. The U.S. Congress' role 



in 



101 
foreign policy supported this agenda. 

Overt Neglect 1953-1976 

The issue of human rights dropped from the U.S. foreign policy agenda between 
the 1950s and the early the 1970s. As we saw from the presidential rhetoric, the Cold 
War and fear of communism dominated foreign policy concerns. Reference to human 
rights in the Congressional Record are non existent. United Nations efforts to promote 
human rights through covenants and treaties received dedicated disregard from the United 
States. 6 In four cases over this period the United States assisted into power regimes that 
acted as gross violators of human rights. 

In 1953, in Iran, the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) orchestrated an 
operation to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Dr. Muhammad 
Musaddiq. Musaddiq's nationalization of the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company in 1951 struck a 
chord of Western defiance. However, Musaddiq's flirtations with the communist Tudeh 
party not only raised the concern of the United States, but also agitated Iran's religious 
leaders (Munson 1988, 53). Musaddiq's attempts at reform created chaos in the country. 
On August 16, 1953, crowds of Tudeh supporters rioted in Tehran and thwarted a coup 
attempted by troops loyal to the Shah. Three days later royalist forces struck again. 
Military forces captured the prime minister and returned the Shah to consolidate his 
monarchy. The Shah dealt harshly with groups who opposed his rule. Between 1953 and 



6 The Genocide Treaty, a response to the fascist atrocities in World War II, was 
adopted by the UN on December 9, 1948 and entered into force on January 12, 195 1 . 
Nevertheless, the treaty wasted away in the Senate until 1986. The International 
Covenant on Civil and Political rights was opened for ratification in 1966, but it was not 
submitted to the Senate until 1977. 






102 
1963 the United States gave Iran $500 million in military aid. The United States helped 

organize an internal security organization, SAVAK, notorious for its brutal treatment of 
political prisoners (Cleveland 1994, 276). 

In 1954, a CIA-sponsored military force overthrew the democratically-elected 
government in Guatemala. Jacobo Arbenz, elected in 1951, lost power when a military 
force led by Castillo Armas forced him to resign. Arbenz' s aggressive posture toward the 
United Fruit Company (UFCO) with the nationalization of land belonging to the company, 
his legalization of the communist Guatemalan Labor party, and his promotion of agrarian 
reform raised the specter of communism in the perception of American officials. Although 
U.S. officials had little evidence that communism was gaining ground in Guatemala, the 
perceived threat was enough to spark a reaction (Schoultz 1998, 342). The American 
ambassador to Guatemala said of Arbenz, "the man thought like a Communist and talked 
like a Communist and if not actually one, would do until one came along" (quoted in 
Dallek 1983, 211). The CIA assisted a disloyal army faction and provided limited air 
support. Other military forces refused to defend the government and Arbenz had to resign 

(Immerman 1982). Castillo Armas assumed the presidency backed by the United States. 

He dismantled labor and peasant movements, jailing and killing thousands in the process, 

repressed political parties and rolled back agrarian reform (Booth and Walker 1993, 43). 

Guatemala was locked into an extended period of political repression and internal violence 

that was not to see respite until the 1990s. 

In April 1965, rebel military forces and civilian groups ostensibly loyal to Juan 

Bosch moved to seize power from a civilian junta in the Dominican Republic. The civilian 



103 
junta had come to power two years earlier when the military overthrew the 

democratically-elected Bosch. After the rebel forces battled the regular army troops out 
of the capital city of Santo Domingo, the American Ambassador reported to officials in 
Washington on possible Communist infiltration in the rebel forces (Wiarda and Kryzanek 
1992, 43). Fears of a Communist takeover prompted President Johnson to order troops 
into the Dominican Republic. The U.S. intervention allowed the regular military troops to 
regroup and snatch a decisive victory away from the rebel forces. 7 

Eventually, in 1966 under U.S. occupation the Organization of American States 
sponsored elections. In the elections Joaquin Balaguer defeated Juan Bosch. Balaguer, 
once a puppet president under the dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, presented himself as 
the candidate of order and stability. Bosch, fearing assassination, ran a minimal campaign, 
rarely venturing out into the public (Wiarda and Kryzanek 1992, 47). Economic 
expansion and political repression characterized Balaguer' s first presidential era, 1966- 
1978. A paramilitary death squad, La Banda, operated openly and with tacit support of 
the National Police. More than a thousand political assassinations took place between 
1966 and 1971 . In 1970, Amnesty International alleged that one death or "disappearance" 
occurred every thirty-four hours (Chomsky and Herman 1979, 243). 

Chile marks a final case in this period of U.S. policy supporting oppression. The 
United States strongly influenced the rise to power of the military regime led by Augusto 



For a balanced assessment of the intervention see Abraham F. Lowenthal (1971) 
The Dominican Intervention . Piero Gleijeses (1978) The Dominican Crisis: The 196S 
Constitutional Revolt and the American Intension provides the best study from the 
rebel perspective. 



104 
Pinochet. Recently declassified information on CIA activities in Chile clearly shows U.S. 
complicity. 8 As we saw from the analysis of presidential rhetoric above, the Nixon 
administration represents the final stage of an American foreign policy in which 
considerations of human rights and democracy receive minimal considerations. 

The left-wing politician Salvador Allende had for years drawn the concern of U.S. 
policymakers who feared the spread of communism. In the early 1960s, President 
Kennedy and Johnson had authorized almost $4,000,000 in expenditures by the CIA to 
prevent Allende and a left wing coalition from gaining power in Chile (Dallek, 1983, 277). 
By the late 1960s, the CIA developed a propaganda mechanism that placed stories in the 
media to discredit Allende. They also provided funding to "moderate candidates" running 
for office. Despite CIA efforts, Allende won a plurality in the presidential election of 
September 4, 1970. On September 15, 1970, President Nixon authorized the CIA to 
prevent Allende from taking office. Although the CIA-instigated coup failed, it led to the 
death of Army Commander Rene Schneider. Schneider had been an obstacle to a military 
takeover since he believed deeply that the Constitution required the Army to allow 
Allende to assume the office of the president. 



"Unless otherwise noted, information on CIA activities in Chile is drawn from the 
Hinchey Report, September 18, 2000. Under Section 3 1 1 of the Intelligence 
Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000, the Intelligence Community, led by the National 
Intelligence Council was required to answer questions regarding the role of the United 
States in the assassination of President Allende, the accession of General Augusto 
Pinochet to the Presidency, and the violation of human rights by offices and agents of 
General Pinochet. The report can be found at http//foia. state.gov/HincheyReport. htm. It 
was accessed on February 24, 2001 at 9:47 a.m. 



105 
The CIA continued to funnel money to opposition parties and provided assistance 
to right-wing militant groups. They also continued their disinformation campaign to 
discredit Allende. According to the Hinchey report, "[t]he CIA was instructed to put the 
U.S. Government in a position to take future advantage of either a political or military 
solution to the Chilean dilemma, depending on how developments unfolded." Finally, on 
September 11, 1973, the military launched a successful coup. Allende took his own life 
while the Presidential palace was under attack. The CIA did not instigate the coup, but 
American officials were aware of the plotting and did nothing to discourage the plotters' 
activities. After the coup, the military junta led by General Pinochet arrested many people 
suspected of being leftists. Many of those arrested were tortured and some 3,000 were 
killed. Beyond these four cases, researchers have provided evidence supporting the thesis 
that U.S. foreign policy from the early 1950s to the early 1970s overtly neglected human 
rights and supported regimes abusive to the rights of their own people. 

Writing in 1974, Steven J. Rosen (1974, 117) argued that both liberal and radical 
critics of American foreign policy agree in their criticism of U.S. support for reactionary 
regimes. Little debate occurred about whether the U.S. supported countries with 
repressive political regimes. Research questions sought to investigate if U.S. policies were 
a product of errors in judgement and an exaggerated fear of communism, or a logical 
outgrowth of the capitalist socioeconomic system. Rosen's 1974 empirical study found 
evidence that in the period from 1954 to 1972, a rightward political shift in a country 
correlated with an increase in U.S. investment, trade and aid. In an early study on the 
relationship between military aid and economic interest John S. Odell (1974) found a 



106 
strong covariance between military assistance and economic interests. In contrast, R. D. 
McKinlay and R. Little (1977) in a longitudinal study of the allocation of aid over the 
years 1960-1970 found that U.S. security interests had an important influence in U.S. aid 
commitments. Minimal support was found to suggest that the aid was allocated based on 
a country's economic performance or to promote U.S. economic interests. Interestingly, 
in some years it was found that countries least likely to restrict political activity received 
the greatest absolute commitment in foreign aid. However, this finding was countered by 
the evidence that the U.S. supported states that repressed political activity if they were 
military regimes. During the period studied, military regimes often arose in response to 
civil disturbances and political unrest usually viewed as communist inspired. In a study on 
economic interests and U.S. foreign policy in Latin America from 1960 to 1969, John 
Peterson (1976) found no evidence that support for democracy or opposition to military 
regimes were factors in the distribution of foreign policy resources. 9 Much research 
during the 1970s concluded that the distribution of U.S. aid supported nefarious outcomes 
and stemmed for self-interested motivations by U.S. policy makers (Pearson, 1976, 
Chomsky and Herman, 1979, Schoultz, 1980). Human rights and democracy did not 
appear to influence foreign policy decisions by the United States. 



Peterson defined foreign policy resources as the level of economic assistance, 
military assistance and the number of diplomatic personnel. 



107 
Support and Promotion 1977-2000 ,0 

As will be more fully explicated in the next chapter, the U.S. Congress began to 
assert its influence on foreign policy and human rights in the early 1970s. In 1973, 
Minnesota Congressman Donald Fraser (D., Minnesota) began a series of hearings on 
human rights. Under his leadership the Subcommittee on International Organizations of 
the House Committee on International Relations produced a report entitled Human Rights 
in the Worl d Community: A Call for U.S. Leadership . Following the Fraser hearings, 
Congress expressed its belief that the United States should link security assistance to 
human rights concerns. Unlike security assistance, Congress legally linked the provision 
of development assistance and human rights (Forsythe 1988, 9-10). 

The election of Jimmy Carter enlisted the executive branch into the Congress lead 
drive to make human rights part of U.S. foreign policy. As we saw above, President 
Carter was the first U.S. president to speak openly of human rights in foreign relations. 
By 1977, Congress created a new position of assistant secretary of state for human rights 
and humanitarian affairs. 11 The Carter administration took some dramatic moves, by 
cutting off aid to some significant countries for human rights abuses. The administration 



io< 



Some scholars divide this period in two, with one period covering the Carter 
Administration, and another beginning with Reagan. (See Forsythe 1990 and Sikkink 
1993). The enforcement of human rights in foreign policy was not perfect in either 
administration, nevertheless, human rights never left the agenda. The division by these 
scholars is based on the expectation that Reagan should have been different from Carter. 



"Congress created the Human Rights Office in 1975 as the Office of the 
Coordinator for Human Rights and Human Affairs. In 1976, Congress elevated the 
position to assistant secretary of state. Carter appointed the person to hold that position 
when he selected Patricia Derian, a former civil rights activist, to the post. 



108 
ended military aid to Argentina, Ethiopia, and Uruguay and successfully sought a repeal of 
the Byrd Amendment, which allowed imports of chrome from Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). 
Critics of Carter's human rights policy argued that his policy was inconsistent and 
represented a double standard. Although the Carter administration cut off military 
assistance to countries like Argentina, Chile, and Ethiopia for human rights violations, he 
continued such assistance to Iran, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea despite their 
human rights violations (Wilson 1983, 188-189). Other critics complained that a human 
rights policy was ineffective. The heterogenous nature of the world, some claimed, made 
common expectations of human rights impossible. Ernst Haas, reacting to Carter's human 
rights policy, declared that "international politics is not the politics of the American civil 
rights movement" (quoted in Wilson 1983, 189). Therefore, standards practiced 
domestically could not be applied to an international venue. 

Ronald Reagan came to office with a different set of ideas regarding the 
relationship between human rights and foreign policy. Before becoming president 
Reagan's first Ambassador to the United Nations, Jean Kirkpatrick wrote a scathing 
critique of the Carter's human rights policy in an article titled "Dictatorships and Double 
Standards." In the article she criticized the Carter administration for treating communist 
countries differently than traditional autocracies. She accused the Carter administration of 
preferring Soviet/Chinese/Cuban socialism over traditional autocracy. She argued that the 
politics of traditional autocracy "is nearly antithetical to our own - at both the symbolic 
and operational level - the rhetoric of progressive revolutionaries sound much better to 
us ... " The reason "modern Americans prefer 'socialist' to traditional autocracies is that 



109 
the former have embraced modernity and have adopted modern modes and perspectives" 
(Kirkpatrick 1979, 42). For Kirkpatrick, this constituted a double standard in U.S. foreign 
policy that needed to be rectified. She counseled that U.S. foreign policy needed to take a 
harder line with the communist countries while being more understanding toward the 
traditional autocracies. Traditional autocracies were less intrusive and less brutal than the 
revolutionary autocracies like the Soviet Union. More important for Kirkpatrick, the 
believer in realpolitik, traditional autocracies readily conformed to the interests of the 
United States. 

Reagan began his administration by ending some "double standards" regarding the 
Soviet Union and its allies and by removing some sanctions from allies in the Cold War. 
The Reagan administration altered the definition of human rights established under the 
Carter administration. Carter had established three categories: freedom from torture, civil 
and political liberties, and economic rights to food and shelter. Reagan homogenized the 
definition and eliminated the economic component of the human rights definition, a move 
consistent with his conservative ideology (Drezner 2000, 745). In May 1982, with 
National Security Decision Directive (NSDD), number 37, the Reagan administration 
overturned the Carter ban on military equipment for Guatemala and authorized the 
transfer of up to $10 million worth of U.S. origin military equipment for fiscal year 1983 
(Simpson 1995, 128). The Reagan Administration also modified foreign policy toward the 
USSR and Eastern Europe. NSDD number 75, stated that the "primary U.S. objective in 
Eastern Europe is to loosen Moscow's hold on the region while promoting the cause of 
human rights in individual Eastern European Countries (Simpson 1995, 258). In response 



110 
to the House of Representatives passing the Boland-Zablocki Amendments barring the 
CIA from continued funding of the Nicaraguan Contras, Reagan issued NSDD number 
100, in July of 1983. The directive charged that the military efforts in Central America be 
linked with the ability to support democracy. Furthermore, an accompanying CIA memo 
dated September 19, 1983, directed funding not only for paramilitary activities in support 
of the Nicaraguan Contras, but assistance to "used to promote pluralism, human rights, 
freedom of the press, free elections, and democratic process inside Nicaragua and 
throughout the region" (Simpson, 1995, 316). 

Reagan overturned some of Carter's decisions to cut military assistance to a few 
countries. Alexander Haig, Reagan's first Secretary of State, publically declared that 
combating terrorism would take priority over human rights (Dberdorfer 1981, Al). 
Nevertheless, human rights in foreign policy had originated in the U.S. Congress, and that 
institution did not relinquish its influence. Congress rejected the nomination of Ernest 
Lefever to the post of assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs. 
Lefever had publically advocated overturing human rights legislation. Moreover, he had 
received money from the Republic of South Africa to publish views favorable to that 
regime (Forsythe 1988, 121). The issue of human rights in American foreign policy would 
not be easily dismissed from the agenda. The evidence suggests that Reagan did not want 
to eviscerate the policy as a component of U.S. foreign policy. Double standards 
continued to exist. Much as Carter was reluctant to cutoff aid to Iran despite it human 
rights violations, Reagan increased aid to El Salvador while ignoring blatant human rights 
violations. What is important to understand, is that human rights as an issue was 



Ill 

becoming an institutionalized component of U.S. foreign policy. In 1981, Ambassador 
Jeane Kirkpatrick wrote "not only should human rights play a central role in U.S. foreign 
policy, no U.S. foreign policy can possibly succeed that does not accord them a major 
role" (Kirkpatrick 1981, 42). 

Picking up on an idea introduced by Congress in the early 1970s, Reagan proposed 
"Project Democracy" (later to evolve into the National Endowment for Democracy) to 
promote democracy abroad. A democratic regime becomes a necessary factor to protect 
human rights. Human rights concerns have been subordinated to other foreign policy 
concerns at times, but have never left the agenda since the Carter administration. By the 
Clinton administration "human rights have become a relatively uncontroversial part of 
U.S. foreign policy" (Donnelly 1999, 242). 

In the following section I examine the systematic research covering the period I 
have identified as one in which the U.S. supports human rights abroad. In the assessment 
of U.S. foreign policy, the provision of bilateral aid is often used as an indicator for 
general orientation of policy. Aid provision establishes commitment and dependency used 
to realize certain foreign policy utilities (McKinlay 1979). Conversely, the withholding or 
denial of aid can signal a change in policy orientation. 

Quantitative Analyses of U.S. Support for Human Rights 
David Cingranello and Thomas Pasquarello (1985) investigated the impact of 
legislation passed by the Congress between 1976 and 1979 explicitly linking human rights 
practices of foreign nations to U.S. foreign policy. The authors conducted a study of 
human rights practices and the distribution of aid to Latin American countries in fiscal year 



112 
1982. Their findings suggested an increased importance for human rights in bilateral aid 

considerations. The authors found a significant relationship between military aid and 
human rights. "Nations with poor human rights records tended to be excluded from the 
military aid recipient group, while those which had recently improved their human rights 
practices tended to be included" (Cigranello and Pasquarello 1985, 554). When 
policymakers made decisions on economic assistance, they provided higher levels of 
assistance to nations with "enlightened human rights practices" (Cigranello and 
Pasquarello, 560). n 

Despite some early rhetoric to overturn Carter's emphasis on human rights, the 
Reagan administration continued the policy lines of the previous administration, and often 
the policy was more consistently applied. Daniel J.B. Hofrenning (1990) found that 
human rights remained a significant factor in aid allocation during the Reagan 
administration. Steven C. Poe, in an analysis of military aid to 26 Latin American states 
and a sample of 40 states in the world, concluded that the Carter administration in 1980 
and the Reagan administration in 1984 tended not allocated aid to countries with poor 
human rights records (Poe 1991). In a study of economic aid to Africa from 1983 to 1988 



12 Some researchers have criticized Cingranelli and Pasquarello's finding based on 
methodological concerns. Cingranelli and Pasquarello excluded El Salvador from their 
study since it received more than 27 percent of U.S. bilateral aid and thus considered a 
nonroutine case. Critics argue that the inclusion of El Salvador would wash out the 
significance of their findings (see Carleton and Stohl 1987). Nevertheless, Cingranelli and 
Pasquarello excluded Cuba from the analysis since U.S. policymakers did not define it as a 
potential recipient of aid. In the rating system of countries developed by Cingranelli and 
Pasquarello, Cuba received the second worst overall human rights score and the worst on 
civil and political rights. One would suspect that an inclusion of Cuba would buttress the 
evidence that U.S. aid levels vary with the level of human rights abuses. 



113 
Steven Poe and Rangsima Sirrangsi (1993) found evidence that human rights were one of 

many considerations entering into aid allocations. Their findings show that for every point 

increase on a five-point ordinal human rights abuse scale, a country was appropriated 

three million dollars less in economic aid. Other studies have continued to find that 

respect for human rights have been considered by U.S. policymakers, but even in the 

waning years of the Cold War strategic interests still had the strongest impact on aid 

allocation (Poe et al. 1994, Blanton 1994). 

Of course, immediate security matters will still trump all other concerns. In the 
war against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, 2001-2002, the United States developed a working 
relationship with an oppressive regime in Uzbekistan. Nevertheless, denying that concerns 
with human rights has entered the equation of decision making is difficult. During the 
Reagan administration, the development of democracy building programs allowed 
engagement with human rights violators like El Salvador. The Reagan administration 
perceived human rights violations as a systematic problem rooted in the lack of democratic 
structures. According to Secretary of State George Shultz, the U.S. had "a duty not only 
to react to specific cases, but also to understand, and seek to shape, the basic structural 
conditions in which human rights are more likely to flourish" (Schultz 1984, 4). 
Moreover, military analysts are coming to understand the importance of human rights to 
security concerns. 

In a study of the Salvadorian civil war, Ernest Evans (1997, 44) concluded that 
"the El Salvadoran civil war demonstrated that in counterinsurgency campaigns, allowing 
the foreign and local military and security personnel to engage in systematic human rights 



114 
violations such as the torture and killing of prisoners is totally counterproductive." 

Tortured and killed prisoners provided poor intelligence information and are less likely to 
cooperate in the future. Abused citizens as less likely to cooperate with the government 
that is abusing them and more likely to support insurgency. Therefore, American military 
advisors worked to curtail human rights abuses by the Salvadorian military. The United 
States also sought to promote and support democratically elected governments in El 
Salvador, even when the U.S. did not particularly agree with that government's 
ideology. 13 Evans (1997) argues that U.S. decision makers have learned from Ernesto 
"Che" Guevara in dealing with counter insurgency operations. Guevara insisted that when 
a government comes to power through some sort of popular vote, revolutionaries cannot 
promote a guerrilla outbreak, since the possibilities of a peaceful struggle have not been 
exhausted. 

In a recent study of US foreign policy and foreign aid (Meernik et al. 1998) found 
that with the passing of the Cold War era security-driven goals in foreign aid have become 
less critical while ideological goals (i.e., human rights and democracy) have become more 
important. Shannon Lindsey Blanton (2000), focusing on U.S. arms exports to 
developing countries for the years 1990 through 1994, found that both human rights and 
democracy were very important in the initial decision making stage. Finally, in the one of 



13 For example, when Jose Napoleon Duarte won the presidency in El Salvador in 
1984, the Reagan administration cooperated closely with him despite the annoyance of 
many in Reagan's own party over Duarte's nationalization of the banking industry. When 
Alfredo Cristiani was elected president in 1989, the Bush administration strove to establish 
a working relationship with his government despite the hostility by many in the U.S. 
Congress to Cristiani's ARENA party. 



115 
the most comprehensive and statistically sophisticated analysis of the relationship between 
U.S. human rights policy and foreign assistance, Clair Apodaca and Michael Stohl (1999) 
find that human rights were a determining factor in the decision to grant economic aid. 14 

Conclusion 

To argue that the United States is concerned with human rights and democracy 
may sound trivial to some. However, as we have seen this has not always been the case. 
Presidential rhetoric has changed with concepts of democracy recast from particular to 
universal. Some may argue that President Carter's idealism was something unique to the 
man, a product of his religious upbringing. However, his successor Reagan was very 
similar in his idealism in foreign policy. Reagan continued and expanded idealism in 
foreign policy. Perhaps we can argue the demands of the Cold War shaped the rhetoric 
and actions of the presidents before Carter. However, both Carter and Reagan operated 
under the Cold War system. It is not until the Bush Administration that a president made 
foreign policy decisions in a post Cold War world. 

The empirical evidence strongly suggests that from the 1950 though the mid 1970s 
the U.S. supported anti-democratic regimes and practiced policies antithetical to human 
rights. Furthermore, the empirical evidence suggests that in late 1970s human rights 



,4 Apodaca and Stohl 's analysis covered the period 1976-1995. The Clinton 
administration is an exception to this finding. The authors contend that the Clinton 
administration was more concerned the U.S. economic interests. Samuel Huntington 
(1997, 37) argues that in Clinton's foreign policy we find that "the dictates of 
commercialism have prevailed over other purposes, including human rights, democracy, 
alliance relationships, maintaining the balance of power, technology export controls, and 

other strategic and political considerations " A full statistical analysis of his two terms 

has yet to be conducted. Clinton did continue the democracy program established under 
Reagan. 



116 
became a component of American foreign policy. Many studies have found a relationship 
between foreign aid and human rights. This is significant when one understands that for 
years researchers were bent on disproving the relationship between human rights and 
foreign policy. Understandably, most researchers held the belief that America supported 
oppression. The relationship is not perfect and sometimes other motives trump human 
rights. The U.S. relationship with China is one example. Today, democracy and the 
respect for human rights are considered in the realm of the possible for China. In the 
1950s few would have thought it to be true. 

I have shown that U.S. foreign policy regarding human rights has changed. How 
do we account for this change? It is not a change in political parties. Before the 1970s 
both Republicans and Democrats often supported authoritarian regimes. Carter, a 
Democrat, and Reagan, a Republican, both pushed a foreign policy with a focus on 
freedom. Carter began with human rights promotion and Reagan expanded that to include 
the promotion of democracy. We cannot blame it on the end of Cold War since the policy 
predates that event. Clearly something changed within American. In the previous chapter, 
I presented evidence suggesting the American identity has changed and that people are 
more tolerant of diversity and respectful of others' political and civil rights. This being the 
case, we can understand that this respect for political and civil rights would bleed over to 
foreign policy. Recall, that the human rights issue originated in the U.S. Congress, the 
branch of government that is nearest to the people. Congress has a role in foreign policy if 
it chooses to act. Members of Congress such as Donald Fraser (D., Minnesota), Tom 
Harkin (D., Iowa), and Don Bonker (D., Washington) acted with the conviction that their 



117 
constituents supported a policy of human rights. When members of Congress voted to 

pass legislation tying foreign aid to the support for human rights, they reflected the general 
norms held by the American people. This connection is explored in more detail in chapter 
6. Given the societal changes we can better understand President Carter's emphasis on 
human rights. Moreover, we can understand why Reagan did not abandon idealism in 
foreign policy. True, Reagan modified Carter's human rights policy, but his world view, 
the mood of the Congress, and the norms of the American people would not allow the 
abandonment of the promotion of freedom, human rights and democracy. In the next 
chapter, I will attempt flesh out the linkages between domestic norms and foreign policy. 
This will be done through an examination of Congressional action toward the promotion 
of democracy. 



CHAPTER 5 
CONGRESS AND THE TRANSMISSION OF NORMS TO FOREIGN POLICY 

Introduction 

In the United States, the transfer of domestic norms from the civil society to public 
policy is most clearly evidenced through the actions of Congress. This does not mean that 
other branches of the federal government are immune to changes at the domestic level. 
Nevertheless, it is the elected assembly in democratic governments that usually first shows 
the changes in society. Recall that we are discussing changes in societal norms regarding 
political and civil rights. Changes in norms have led to a growth in tolerance and a change 
in the U.S. identity. This change in the domestic normative structure leads to changed 
policy orientations. In this chapter, I will illustrate the transmission of the changed 
domestic norms regarding civil and political rights to the change in foreign policy 
regarding the promotion of human rights and democracy abroad via congressional action. 

First, I discuss the process of foreign policy making in the United States as 
traditionally and constitutionally understood. Next, I will address the "two presidencies 
thesis." As originally constructed, Aaron Wildavsky's "two presidencies" thesis suggests 
that presidents have leeway in matters of foreign policy. In subsequent examinations of 
Wildavsksy's thesis, the concept of the "two presidencies" has not held up Third, I 
consider the role of the resurgent Congress in the United States and end of the "two 
presidencies" which corresponds to the changing normative patterns in the United States. 

118 



119 
This leads to a discussion of the role of constituent influence on members of Congress. 
Taking a cue from the "new institutionalist" literature on American Government, I address 
the mechanisms in addition to the legislative process by which Congress can influence 
foreign policy. Finally, I confront the legislative and procedural changes that Congress has 
undertaken to incorporate the promotion of democracy and human rights into U.S. foreign 
policy. While the president was important in foreign policy action, Congress exerted more 
influence regarding human rights and democracy promotion. Congress more immediately 
transmitted societal norms to foreign policy. 

Constitutional Power and Foreign Policy 

The U.S. national government is based on a division of powers with three separate 
branches. However, separate institutions sharing power better describes the American 
system of governance. This constitutional sharing of power creates what Edward Corwin 
(1957, 171) called an invitation to struggle. The U.S. Constitution endows both the 
president and Congress with significant foreign policy responsibilities. The judicial branch 
has less influence in foreign policy and traditionally has followed a self-denying ordinance. 
Particularly in times of crisis the Court has allowed both branches to act more extensively 
in foreign policy than it has permitted in domestic policy. The Court has declared foreign 
policy matters political issues and not amenable to resolution by the judicial system and 
has upheld the authority of the executive branch (Crabb and Holt 1992, 1). 

The president holds the primary position in foreign policy. Constitutional powers 
granted to the president in this realm are extensive and by tradition presidents have sought 
to gather power regarding foreign policy. The Constitution (Article II, Section 2) 



120 
designates the president as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United 
States and of the Militia of the several States." The conduct of military forces is an 
important tool of foreign policy and one that U.S. presidents have used to great effect. 
The Constitution grants to the Congress the power to declare war, but the president's role 
as commander in chief gives the executive much latitude. Alexander Hamilton in the 
Federalist Papers , number 70, argued for "energy in the executive." For Hamilton an 
energetic executive was essential "to the protection of the country against foreign attacks. 
. . ." Although Hamilton argued that only a surprise attack on the U.S. provided 
justification for war by presidential action, he nevertheless argued in the Federalist Papers , 
number 75, that an energetic executive in the conduct of war was "the bulwark of national 
security" (Kramnick 1987). 

U.S. presidents have used their power to direct troops into action to shape U.S. 
foreign policy. Thomas Jefferson commanded military action against the Barbary pirates 
without congressional authorization. President James K. Polk ordered U.S. military forces 
in Texas into disputed territory with Mexico provoking a military reaction and providing 
the president with a justification for war (see Perkins 1993, 188-191). Since the founding 
of the republic, U.S. presidents have sent military forces into action more than 200 times. 1 
When a president can frame a policy decision in terms of security, the president's liberty in 
action is initially extensive. The United States fought only five declared wars, that is, 
where the Congress has issued a formal declaration of war. These include the War of 



'From 1928 to 1980, the United States engaged in 228 militarized interstate 
disputes (Bremer 1996). 



121 
1812, the Mexican War of 1846, the Spanish American War of 1898, World War I 

declared in 1917, and World War II declared in 1941 . The United States has engaged in 

many extended military actions that might be considered undeclared wars. These include 

the Undeclared Naval War with France from 1798 to 1800, the First Barbary War from 

1801 to 1805, the Second Barbary War of 1815, the Korean War of 1950-53, the Vietnam 

War from 1964 to 1973, and the Persian Gulf War of 1991 . With the Persian Gulf War 

against Iraq, Congress authorized the military action although it did not declare war. 

After the terrorist attacks of September 1 1, 2001, the president has used extensive military 

force in the war against terrorism without a Congressional declaration of war. 2 These 

"presidential wars" illustrate the power inherent in the role of commander in chief. 

Presidential power in foreign affairs exists in the power to recognize foreign states 

and to make treaties with them. The president has the power to negotiate with other 

countries and make binding agreements with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. In 

the twentieth century presidents have found a means to circumvent the provision of 

Senatorial consent, the executive agreement. This tool allows the president to enter into 

agreements with others states while bypassing the Congress. The Supreme Court in 

United States v. Belmount (1937) ruled that an executive agreement carries the same legal 

force as a treaty. 3 In a thirty-year period after the end of the Second World War, U.S. 



2 On September 14, 2001, both houses of Congress did pass resolutions supporting 
the president's use offeree in response to the terrorist acts of September 1 1, 2001 

3 The Soviet government nationalized the Petrograde Metal Works in 1918 and 
confiscated its properties and assets. Some of theses assets were on deposit in Belmount's 
bank in New York. In 1933, President Roosevelt recognized the Soviet government and 
concluded the Litvinov Assignments. This agreement was a final settlement of all claims 



122 
presidents entered 7,200 executive agreements compared to 451 treaties (Hastedt 2000, 
165). 

The modern president is primus inter pares in the foreign policy realm, or so it 
seems. Presidential power in foreign policy led Aaron Wildavsky, in 1966, to declare that 
the United States has two presidents, one for foreign policy and another for domestic 
policy. The foreign policy president is usually victorious on policy matters, while the 
domestic president must struggle with Congress. This apparent dichotomy in presidential 
power disappears in the 1970s, suggesting a resurgent Congress. In the next section, I 
will further explore the two presidencies thesis. 

The Two Presidencies 

In a 1966 issue of Trans- Action Wildavsky proposed that the United States may 
have one president, but it has two presidencies; one presidency is for domestic affairs and 
the other for defense and foreign policy (Wildavsky 1991, 1 1). In an examination of 
Congressional action on presidential proposals from 1948-1964, Wildavsky found that 
presidents had significantly better records in matters of foreign and defense policy than in 
domestic policy issues. On average, presidents prevailed in more than 70 percent of their 
foreign policy requests compared to 40 percent of their domestic policy requests. For 
Wildavsky, the evidence pointed to a presidential preponderance in matters of foreign 
policy. Beyond the constitutional prerogatives of the president, Wildavsky found that 
increased presidential power in foreign policy resided in the changes in world politics in 



and counterclaims between the two countries. It included the deposits in Belmont's bank. 
Belmount challenged the constitutionality of such an agreement made without the advice 
and consent of the U.S. Senate. 



123 
the post-World War II era (Wildavsky 1991, 13). 

Wildavsky identifies six possible competitors for control of foreign policy: the 

public, special interest groups, the Congress, the military, the military-industrial complex, 

and the State Department. He found that none matched the president in the potential of 

control. The public is more "dependent on presidents in foreign affairs than in domestic 

matters" (Wildavsky 1991, 15). The public knows little about foreign affairs and usually 

defers to the president unless the action involves large numbers of troops engaged in 

hostile actions. In domestic affairs, special interest groups are strong and influential; 

however, in matters of foreign affairs, except for a few ethnic groups, little organized 

activity exists around issues concerning foreign policy (Wildavsky 1991, 16). According 

to Wildavsky, Congress has the ability to act in foreign policy, yet most often follows "a 

self-denying ordinance." In his 1966 study, Wildavsky found that when a foreign policy 

issue involved the use or threat of force Congress overwhelmingly supported the 

president's position (Wildavsky 1991, 17). Wildavsky also found that the military and the 

military-industrial complex were surprisingly ineffectual in policy formation. Wildavsky 

also concludes that the State department carries no threat to a president's control over 

policy. Modern presidents replace Secretaries of State that do not follow through on 

policy decisions. Furthermore, given the growth of the presidential staff and the 

development of the National Security Council the president is no longer dependent on the 

State Department for policy information (Wildavsky 1991, 23). If knowledge is power, 

than presidents are well place to be powerful. 

Wildavsky' s description of presidential power in foreign policy laid the foundations 



124 
for the conception of what Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (1973) called the "Imperial Presidency." 
In the post World War II period and prior the 1970s, the axiomatic expression for 
American politics was that "politics ends at the water's edge." In matters of foreign policy 
the country would unite behind the head of state and head of government, the president. 
The country spoke with one voice and only the president could make those vocalizations. 
This axiom is no longer valid and accepted. Therefore, our understanding of the process 
of action in American foreign policy has changed. 
Two Presidencies: Fact or Artifact 

In 1975, Donald Peppers reexamined Wildavsky's thesis and found it overstated 
and no longer applicable. The strength of Wildavsky's original proposition lost some of it 
vitality as a result of the Johnson and Nixon presidencies and the events of Vietnam and 
Watergate (Peppers 1991, 26). Peppers concedes that the president has more leeway in 
matters of foreign policy than in domestic issues; nonetheless, he finds the dichotomous 
division of the office of the president an exaggeration. Peppers argues that the rise of 
non-defense issues in foreign policy, such as trade issues, attracts greater attention of 
domestic interest groups. The deference in foreign policy matters that the president once 
received from the Congress and the public did not manifest in the post Vietnam and 
Watergate era. After the betrayal of the public trust, one the pillars of the "two 
presidencies thesis," the obeisance to the president on foreign policy issues, no longer 
existed (Peppers 1991, 28-29). 

Lance LeLoup and Steven Shull (1991) reexamined Wildavsky's "two 
presidencies" thesis for the period 1965-1975. Like the earlier period that Wildavsky 



125 
examined (1948-1964) they found that the president does receive a higher approval rate of 
policy initiative in matters of foreign policy than in domestic policy, however, for the latter 
period they discovered that the difference between the two had narrowed. In Wildavsky's 
study, Congress approved about 40 percent of the president's domestic initiatives while 
approving 70 percent of his foreign policy initiatives. In the latter period of study, on the 
domestic side the approval rate increased to 46 percent while approvals of foreign policy 
matters declined to about 55 percent (LeLoup and Shull 1991, 38). 4 

The "two presidencies" thesis as originally developed by Wildavsky in 1966 has 
not withstood empirical testing over time. It does appear that the phenomena that 
Wildavsky measured represented an artifact of a particular period in United States history. 



"Other significant studies regarding the "two presidencies" thesis includes Richard 
Fleisher and Jon Bond (1991) who found that the "two presidencies" was not time bound 
to the period of Wildavsky study. However, they did find the phenomena only appeared 
with Republican presidents (Fleisher and Bond 1991, 138-139). Russell Renka and 
Bradford Jones found that the phenomena did not appear in the first Reagan 
administration. When the Democrats regained control of the Senate in 1987, the 
phenomenon reappeared. Interestingly, Renka and Jones consider the phenomena of the 
"two presidencies" as a signal of presidential weakness that suggests the marginality of 
presidential leadership in the Congress. "Leadership and influence are exercised within a 
set of enabling conditions; when those conditions change, so does presidential program 
success" (Renka and Jones: 1991, 174). Therefore, the "two presidencies" phenomenon 
does not represent the increased success in foreign policy, but only a weakness of a 
particular president's capabilities in the setting of a domestic agenda. In an analysis of 
President Clinton's first two years of office Richard Conley fails to confirm the "two 
presidencies" effect. Clinton's success on purely domestic policy issues was higher than 
his success on foreign policy issues, 82.6 percent for domestic policy and 75.9 percent for 
foreign policy issues (Conley 1997, 233). Conley also included an intermestic category in 
which the president gathers roughly the same support (77.7 percent). Conley does find 
that the "two presidencies" surfaces among Republicans, but not among Democrats. 
Republican support for the Democratic president is 15 percent higher on foreign policy 
than on domestic issues. The phenomenon, according to Conley, is not a product of a 
bipartisan consensus, rather a product of GOP . . . distaste for Clinton's domestic 
policy. . . . "(Conley 1997, 234). 



126 
Analysis from Peppers (1975) to Conley (1997) have not produced evidence to support 

Wildavsky's original thesis. By 1989, Wildavsky himself agreed with his critics. 

Wildavsky concluded that: 

"The two presidencies" is time and culture bound. It succeeds in showing that the 
Eisenhower administration had greater support in foreign and defense than in 
domestic policy, and in explaining why. It fails in that both the patterns of 
behavior and the reasons for their maintenance did not exist in the decades before 
or after the 1950s. (Oldfield and Wildavsky 1991, 183) 

This reduction of presidential power coincides with the changing domestic norms 

in the United States. Presidential foreign policy was out of line with the dominant societal 

context. The long conflict in Vietnam engendered a loss of trust between the American 

public and the government. The U.S. position toward Vietnam had always been 

paternalist, yet condescending. In 1956, the then Senator Kennedy in a speech about 

Vietnam made this point. "If we are not the parents of little Vietnam . . . then surely we 

are the godparents ... this is our offspring" (quoted in McNamara, et al. 1999, 28). 

The increasing use of violence and force in the prosecution of the war and the revelations 

in the "Pentagon Papers" printed in the New York Times in June 1971 made it clear to the 

American people that the American government had not been forthright in what was being 

done in their name in Indochina. John Spanier writes: "[M]any Americans perceived the 

war to be morally ambiguous, if not downright immoral." Moreover, he argues that the 

undemocratic Saigon government and its apparent lack of popularity gave the perception 

that the civil war was against Saigon's repression. The massive and sometimes 

indiscriminate use of American firepower that led to widespread destruction of civilian life 

"pricked the conscience of many Americans concerned with their nation's historic image as 



127 
a compassionate and humane country" (Spanier 1992, 179). By the late 1960s, U.S. 

foreign policy was out of line with the prevailing domestic norms. Through the Congress 

we find a reconnecting of foreign policy with domestic norms, therefore, the phenomena 

of the resurgent Congress. 

A Resurgent Congress 

The analysis above strongly suggests that presidential power has diminished in 
relation to Congress. Research on the "two presidencies" has been based on roll-call 
votes and there are difficulties with this type of data. Lindsay and Steger assert that the 
entire "two presidencies" debate is misspecified. "The two presidencies literature 
presumes to assess the power of the president on foreign versus domestic policy, but 
because scholars have examined roll-call votes it actually addresses the narrower issue of 
presidential success in Congress" (Lindsay and Steger 1993, 103). This methodological 
problem casts doubt on the entire thesis. By focusing on roll-call votes, scholars have 
failed to capture the full power of the president in foreign policy. Presidents often act 
without congressional approval in matters of foreign policy. Furthermore, many foreign 
policy statutes empower the president to waive the law if he believes it to be a matter of 
national security. Moreover, the use of the roll-call vote does not consider what happens 
to the proposal after it leaves the Congress. 

Some scholars contend that the Congressional assertiveness has been overstated 
and so has its traditional subservience. According to John Rourke (1983, xiv), "Congress 
was never as weak as it was usually portrayed in the past nor is it as powerful as 
contemporary commentary often pictures it." During periods of crisis the Congress is 



128 
reluctant to challenge presidential authority in foreign policy. After the September 1 1, 
2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City, the U.S. Congress 
quickly rallied behind the president. However, when the administration's policy is out of 
sync with the public or the president refuses to modify policy in the face of opposition, 
Congress will become more assertive (Blechman 1990). 

The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution featured the U.S. Congress at its acquiescent best. 
With that 1964 resolution Congress handed President Johnson a blank check to use 
military force in the conduct of operations of Vietnam. After years of combat and 
growing domestic protest and an antiwar movement in the United States, the U.S. 
Congress reasserted itself and changed its position on supporting military efforts in 
Vietnam. The original resolution passed the House by a vote of 416 in favor and none 
opposed. In the Senate, 89 members voted to pass the resolution with only two senators 
opposed (Wiarda 1996, 266). By the early 1970s, the Congress used its most powerful 
policy tool, the power to spend, and scaled back funding for the war effort. 

The Constitution grants the power of the purse to the Congress. This power is 
essentially twofold. Congress has power over revenue raised by the federal government 
and the power to decided how the revenue is spent. Policy is what gets funded (Snow and 
Brown 1 997, 1 68- 1 69). Congress enacted eight prohibitions on the use of funds for 
military operations in Indochina between 1970 and 1974 (Crabb and Holt 1992, 144). 

Funding for operations in Vietnam dropped precipitously in the early 1970s. 
Congressional action reflected the public's mood about the war. Despite the Nixon 
Administration's attempts to gather some type of victory for the United States by 



129 
transferring fighting capabilities to the South Vietnamese with its "Vietnamization" 
program, Congress refused to acquiesce. Henry Kissinger relates that even "economic 
assistance to South Vietnam was being throttled. In 1972 the Congress had voted $2 
billion in aid; in 1973, the amount was reduced to $1 .4 billion, and in 1974 it was cut in 
half, even though oil prices had quadrupled" (Kissinger 1994, 697). 

In his book No More Vietnams. President Nixon indicts the U.S. Congress for the 
collapse of South Vietnam. "We won the war" declares Nixon, "but we lost the peace. 
All that we had achieved in twelve years of fighting was thrown away in a spasm of 
congressional irresponsibility" (Nixon 1990, 278). In April 1975, President Ford went 
before a joint session of Congress and requested emergency assistance for the South 
Vietnamese to stave off a North Vietnamese victory. He requested $722 in military aid 
and $250 in economic and humanitarian aid. The president's request died in committee. 
By this time both the Congress and the American public had soured on warfare in 
Southeast Asia. A Gallup poll conducted March 1975 revealed that 78 percent of those 
polled opposed any further assistance to Southeast Asian countries (Bowes 1979, 232). 
The spasm of congressional irresponsibility, as Nixon called it, illustrates two things. 
First, Congress can be very powerful and the ultimate power in foreign policy if it 
chooses. Second, when the overwhelming public mood differs from policy, that is, when 
the societal norms are at odds with public policy, Congress will be the first to show the 
disharmony in norms and seek to bring policy in line with the public. Congress was 
responsible and was not reacting to short-term changes in public sentiment. By the 1970s 
U.S. society had changed generally. 



130 



Constituent Influence on Congress 

Constituency opinion plays a role in the behavior of members of the U.S. 
Congress. Constituency influence reaches members of Congress and shapes their behavior 
in many ways. First, the Congress is a representative body and candidates who run for 
elected office usually share the values and beliefs of their local electorates. Residency 
requirements exist for members of the House and Senate. Most often, members of 
Congress were born and raised in the district or the state that they represent. 5 Second, in 
the election process a candidate's position on issues and the candidate's party affiliation 
provide cues for the voting public in their selection. Finally, once elected, the 
representative would presumably continue to give preference to district interests when 
casting their votes (Erikson 1978, 511). 

The professionalization of the Congress provides further assistance to the influence 
of constituents. According to Morris Fiorina, the professionalization of Congress is a 
twentieth-century phenomenon. During the nineteenth-century the congressional turnover 
rate amounted to 40 or 50 percent of the membership at each election (Fiorina 1989, 7). 
As professionals, members of Congress are concerned with preserving their livelihoods. 
The primary way that they do this is by matching their voting behavior with the interests of 



5 Of course there are exceptions, but these are usually limited to political 
"superstars." Robert Kennedy served as the Senator from New York despite his limited 
residency in the state. His election was significantly helped by his status as the former 
U.S. Attorney General and brother of an assassinated president. Hillary Clinton, born i 
Illinois, was competitive in the 2000 New York Senatorial campaign largely due to her 
status as First Lady. 



in 



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their constituents or at least by not voting contrary to their interests. 

Some scholars have argued that constituent opinion does not determine 
congressional behavior. In the now classic study "Constituency Influence in Congress" 
Warren Miller and Donald Stokes (1963) purported to show empirically that constituent 
opinion did not matter much in Congressional roll-call voting. Using "path analysis" in an 
examination of three issue areas, Miller and Stokes reported a high correlation between 
constituency opinion and civil rights, a low correlation on social issues and a negative 
correlation between constituency opinion and foreign policy. They concluded that 
constituency opinion was not a major factor in roll-call voting and congressional behavior. 
Nevertheless, Robert Erikson (1978) clearly showed that the Miller and Stokes study 
suffered from measurement error and a biased sampling procedure. Erikson' s alternative 
study found considerable increases in the observed correlations between constituency 
opinion and congressional behavior. The relevance of the correlations was apparent when 
Erikson measured constituent opinion against the issue positions of candidates for political 
office. As one would expect, winners of elections matched their constituents more closely 
than losers. "[Constituencies control their Representatives' attitudes via their electoral 
behavior ..." (Erikson 1978 532). Elections bring about much higher levels of policy 
representation than expected. 

Professional politicians eager to attain and remain in office give the voters what 
they want. Although legislators may have a bit more leeway in developing their own 
approach to foreign policy, legislators do not like to be too far ahead of their constituents 
(see Erikson and Wright 1997). As discussed in an earlier chapter, the old folklore in 



132 
political science that the public is irrational and has no impact on foreign policy belongs to 
the dustbin of history. In a reassessment of the influence of public opinion, Benjamin Page 
and Robert Shapiro (1992, 284) find that public opinion is not only rational but an 
autonomous force that can have a substantial impact on policy. Page and Shapiro (1992, 
45) find that there has been "a remarkable degree of stability in Americans' collective 
policy preferences"during the last fifty years. Other studies have found that citizens are 
equally able to identify their policy positions on foreign and domestic policy issues 
(Aldrich, Sullivan and Borgida, 1989). Members of Congress do respond to societal 
changes and the demands of the electorate (Clausen and Van Home 1977). 

It makes sense that Eillen Burgin (1993) finds that in foreign policy members of 
Congress are motivated to involve themselves in issues that are of interest to their 
constituents. Conversely, she finds that representatives do not generally involve 
themselves in issues that are not salient to their constituents, even if the individual member 
has a personal interest in the subject. ""[M]inimal supporter interest inhibits activities 
regarding a foreign or defense policy issue because of the belief that involvement would 
trigger adverse political consequences" (Burgin 1993, 73). With this understood we can 
look to the U.S. Congress as an indicator of societal attitudes toward policy issues. More 
than any other branch of government, the Congress most accurately reflects the norms of 
the United States. The next section explores ways other than direct legislation that the 
Congress can influence and shape foreign policy. 






133 



Congressional Influence 

Beyond the direct power of the purse and the ability to control and regulate 
spending, Congress has other tools at its disposal to influence and shape foreign policy. 
Through procedural changes and other innovations Congress puts its indelible mark on 
U.S. international affairs. The "new institutionalists" literature in the study of American 
government suggests that we cannot understand policy separate from process. Institutions 
matter as they contribute or impede particular policy capabilities (Rockman 1994, 149). 
The ability of the Congress to dictate structures and procedures gives members the ability 
to interject their preferences into the policy making process without passing substantive 
legislation on how the executive will conduct U.S. foreign relations. "Alterations in 
procedures will change the expected policy outcome of administrative agencies by 
affecting the relative influence of people who are affected by the policy" (McCubbins et al. 
1987, 254). 

James Lindsay (1992-93, 1994) has identified five types of procedural changes 
Congress uses to influence foreign policy. The first is the creation of new institutions 
within the executive branch. Congress creates posts in the established bureaucracy which 
may be sympathetic to its policy positions and preferences. This strategy "proceeds from 
the simple assumption about bureaucratic life: policies that don't [sic] have champions in 
the bureaucracy are doomed ..." (Lindsay 1994, 286). 

The second procedural innovation available to Congress is the legislative veto. 
Beginning in the 1930s, Congress gave the president the authority to propose shifts in the 



134 
organization of the bureaucracy. Changes could go into effect if the Congress did not 
"subsequently pass a resolution disallowing the president's initiative" (Rourke 1993, 689). 
Congress could veto or block the executive's actions by passing a simple (one-house) or 
concurrent (two-house) resolution. Neither type of resolution was subject to a 
presidential veto. In 1983, the Supreme Court limited the use of the legislative veto in 
I.N.S. v. Chadha. In response to the Supreme Court's decision, Congress added many 
report-and-wait requirements giving Congress time to pass blocking resolutions to specific 
policies. The Supreme Court did not disallow all legislative vetoes. The Court's ruling 
still permitted legislative vetoes that affect congressional procedures rather than policies 
(see Franck and Bob 1 985). 

A third procedural innovation involves the enfranchisement of new groups into the 
decision process. For example, Congress may require one agency to solicit 
recommendations from another agency before it enacts new policy. The assumption is 
"that the newly enfranchised groups will push policy in the direction Congress prefers" 
(Lindsay 1994, 286). The fourth procedural type entails the specification of new 
procedures for the executive branch to follow. Congress allows the executive branch to 
proceed as it sees fit but under the constraint of certain conditions. 

The fifth and final procedural innovation is the reporting requirement. These 
include notification provisions which require the executive to notify the Congress if it 
takes certain actions. Congress can mandate that the executive make reports to the 
Congress on the status of policy or programs. These may be one-time reports or periodic 
reports where Congress requires the executive to report the status of given programs at 



135 
specified intervals. 

Congress has many tools at its disposal to shape and direct policy. Binding 
legislation as we have seen is the traditional mechanism. In 1986, Congress imposed trade 
sanctions on South Africa overriding a presidential veto (see Klotz 1995). Congress can 
withhold or take away funding for programs, shaping policy through a process of 
affirmation or negation. As discussed above, Congress's ability to shape policy is far more 
subtle. Through procedural innovations Congress can steer policy development and 
implementation. 

Congress can pass nonbinding legislation in the form of resolutions. Resolutions 
have no force of law and do not require presidential action. They instead provide for a 
public declaration of the mood of the Congress and allow the legislature to make a 
statement on an issue without incurring obligation. Individual members of Congress also 
provide advice to the president through informal measures such as breakfast meetings or 
personal phone calls, or through formal consulting requirements (Burgin 1997, 300). In 
the age of mass communication the president is the not the only politician with the 
capability of "going public." 6 The development of televised communication and news 
programs such as Meet the Press provide members of Congress a forum to make public 
statements on policy issues to a wider audience. Congress can hold hearings on issues, 



6 According to Samuel Kernell "going public' is a strategy for presidential 
leadership. It includes a class of activities that presidents use to promote themselves and 
their policies before the American public. "Some examples of going public are a televised 
press conference, a special prime-time address to the nation, a speech before a business 
convention on the West Coast, a visit to a day care center, and a White House ceremony 
to decorate a local hero that is broadcast via satellite to the hometown television station" 
(Kernell 1997, ix). 



136 
ostensibly for fact finding, but also as a means to shape policy perception through 

congressional selection of specific experts to testify before the committee. Floor 

statements and speeches in the House and the Senate by the members provide a forum to 

criticism or support of policy. Congress has a wide range of powers and capabilities. 

Congress, Human Rights and Democracy Promotion 

U.S. foreign policy on human rights and democracy originated from, and to a large 
extent was promulgated by the Congress. Various presidents picked up on these issues as 
relevant for U.S. foreign policy, such as Carter's crusade for human rights and Reagan's 
democracy mission. Nevertheless, these presidents followed initiatives begun by the U.S. 
Congress. The following section explores Congressional action in shaping U.S. foreign 
policy toward the promotion of human rights and democracy. We find that the 
Congressional activities mirror the changes within American society. The process of 
normative change in the United States regarding political and civil rights coincides with 
changes in foreign policy. The growth of domestic tolerance produced tolerance abroad. 
As discussed above, Congress is the branch of government closest the people and 
therefore the one that most closely matches the patterns of beliefs of the American people. 
Human rights and democracy only became embedded in foreign policy after the normative 
change in U.S. society, that is, in the period of the 1970s. 

Following World War II, U.S. military victory translated into a program of 
democratization for the vanquished enemy states of Germany, Japan, Austria and Italy. 
However, most of these states had experienced a period of embryonic democratic 
governance in the decades before World War II. In 1925, the Japanese government lifted 



137 
tax qualifications for voting and established universal suffrage (Reischauer 1970, 221). 
Following World War I, the Weimar system in Germany gave Germans an extensive 
structure of democratic government. Germany's democratization far exceeded Japan's 
liberalization (Muravchik 1992, 108). Austria like Germany had also experienced a period 
of democratic government before the Nazis seized power. The Italian government before 
the fascist's take-over resembles that of Japan with both authoritarian and democratic 
characteristics. The U.S. and Allied occupation of these countries and resulted in the 
reestablishment of democratic structures. U.S. occupation forces purged individuals 
associated with the former authoritarian regimes from public life. 

Much as the Marshall plan was successful because it reconstructed formerly 
developed economies, the democratization programs in the former Axis countries 
succeeded in reinstating democratic government. Except Japan, all of the former Axis 
countries were Western in cultural orientation and of a European racial identity. The 
United State's enthusiasm for democracy did not extend beyond these countries. U.S. 
policy makers quickly accepted less than democratic regimes in its relations with other 
states, particularly in the newly independent states and former colonies. One may argue 
that the necessities of the Cold War drove U.S. policy choices. However, one has to think 
that populations identified as non western were considered not developed, modem, or 
capable of acting democratically. 

The U.S. Congress in this period lacked enthusiasm for human rights in U.S. 
foreign policy. Many in the Congress feared that if the spotlight of concern for human 
rights were fully lit it would reflect back unfavorable on the United States (Van Dyke 



138 
1970). As discussed above, Congressional sentiments match constituency expectations. 
From 1950 to 1955, the junior Senator from Ohio, John Bricker (R. Ohio) led a movement 
to amend the U.S. Constitution to make it impossible for the United States to adhere to 
human rights treaties. The bill listed forty-five of the forty-eight Republican Senators as 
sponsors, but only nineteen Democrats signed the resolution. Thirteen of those 
Democratic Senators were from Southern states (Schubert 1954, 256) Anti-civil-rights 
forces feared that an international treaty could end racial discrimination and segregation in 
the United States (Henkin 1995, 348). 

Senator Bricker first introduced his resolution in September 1951. He sought to 
amend the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, clause 2) of the Constitution. The Bricker 
Amendment sought to limit the scope of the treaty making power and the use of executive 
agreements (Schubert 1954, 260). Many Senators feared that U.S. courts would interpret 
treaties to which the United States became a party in a way that would find segregation 
practices of some states unlawful. Section 2 of the proposed amendment specifically 
stated "A treaty shall become effective as internal law in the United States only through 
legislation which would be valid in the absence of the treaty" (U.S. Senate 1953, 1). The 
amendment also subjected all executive agreements to approval by the Congress. 

Support for the amendment continued to grow through 1953. Groups such as the 
American Medical Association, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the 
American Bar Association actively promoted the passage of the Bricker Amendment. 
Stephen Garrett relates that one "particularly vocal organization, called the Vigilant 
Women for the Bricker Amendment, managed to collect some 200,000 petitions in 



139 
support of Senator Bricker, these being presented to him on January 25, 1954, in a 
melodramatic ceremony" (Garrett 1972, 196). 

The Eisenhower Administration, although slow to mobilize against the 
Congressional attempt to take-away executive power, came out against the amendment in 
1953. During a press conference in March 1953, President Eisenhower observed that the 
Bricker Amendment would restrict his conduct of foreign affairs and clearly stated his 
opposition to it (Schubert 1954, 273). The Eisenhower Administration's opposition to the 
Bricker Amendment was only due to its restriction of executive power. Shortly after the 
president's declared opposition to the Amendment, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles 
testified before Congress and promised that the United States would not sign the draft 
covenants on Human Rights or on the Political Rights of Women. The Secretary also 
pledged that the Administration would not press for the ratification of the Genocide 
Convention pending before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Schubert 1954, 
273). This promise was enough to sway support against the Bricker Amendment. When 
the final version of the Amendment came to a vote in the Senate, it was defeated by a vote 
of 50 to 42 (Congressional Record 1954, 2262). 

The Bricker Amendment had broad implications for Congressional/ Presidential 
relations and for the future conduct on foreign policy. However, the driving factor for the 
proposed amendment was to prevent the United States from being subjected to 
international norms on civil rights. In the 1950s Congress declined to support international 
norms on human right for fear that it would impinge on the ability of the U.S. legally to 
violate the rights of its own citizens. These Congressional attitudes reflected the broader 



140 
American societal attitudes toward civil rights and human rights. Recall from chapter 3 

that approximately to 60 percent of white Americans thought that white students and 

black students should go to separate schools (Mayer 1992, 369). In 1958, more than half 

the people polled would refuse to vote for a Black for president, even if their own party 

nominated that person. In that same year half of White Americans polled indicated they 

would move if Black people came to live in their neighborhood. Given this level of 

societal resistance, to have the United Nations condemn the United States for Ku Klux 

Klan activities in North Carolina or segregated housing in Detroit was not tolerable for 

many in Congress. Resistance to change was still strong. Many mainstream American 

interest groups supported the amendment. Some groups such as the American Civil 

Liberties Union and the American Federation of Labor opposed the Bricker Amendment, 

yet their power did not defeat the amendment. Only the Eisenhower Administration's 

promise not to sign any of the covenants on human rights prevented the passage of the 

amendment. When it came to non Western/European/White people, the executive branch, 

like the Congress and the American society, was not much concerned for human rights 

and the exercise of democracy at the domestic or international levels. 

As we have seen in chapter 3, the U.S. domestic structure was under going 
extensive change in the post World War II era, with the civil rights movement followed by 
the women's rights movement and the broad-based growth of tolerance in the United 
States. As expected from the earlier discussion, evidence of this societal change in foreign 
policy first emerged from the U.S. Congress. 

In the 1950s and 1960s the driving force in U.S. foreign aid was security concerns. 



141 
States opposed to the Soviet Union and friendly to the U.S. were likely to receive military 
and economic aid regardless of their human rights records or political structure. 
Regarding aid, the focus of U.S. programs was economic and not political. The 
operational paradigm of U.S. policy was the idea of modernization. Modernization theory 
conceives of development as a linear process with societies moving through stages until 
they reach a final stage of a high mass consumption society. At this final stage states 
would resemble the U.S. both politically and economically with democracy joined to 
capitalism (see Rostow 1960). According to the theory, before states could achieve 
democracy, economic development must occur. Although democracy might have been the 
future goal, it was not seriously considered in aid policy. The Kennedy administration's 
aid programs such as the Alliance for Progress for Latin America did little to foster 
democracy. Instead the focus was on economic development and the strengthening of 
public administration (Carothers 1999, 22). 

In the mid-1960s a nascent movement emerged from the U.S. House of 
Representatives seeking to give political development priority over economic development 
in the allocation of U.S. aid. Donald Fraser (D., Minnesota) and Bradford Morse (D., 
Massachusetts), members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, became leading 
advocates of this new orientation. They sought a reorientation in U.S. policy putting 
social and political evolution as the first concern of the U.S. foreign assistance program. 
In 1966, twenty-five members of the House of Representatives entered a statement in the 
Congressional Record calling for "New Direction and New Emphasis in Foreign Aid." 
Led by Bradford Morse, the statement was a product of a six-month Congressional study. 



142 
The group argued that "prosperity, political stability, and political freedom are the surest 

path to peace" (Congressional Record 1966, 5852). They conceded that the United States 
could not insist on "carbon copies of western institutions." Nevertheless, the group 
recommended "that no U.S. aid should be extended to any country that shows no interest 
in holding popular elections, establishing broad suffrage, or creating a civil service system 
based on merit" (Congressional Record 1966, 5853). Fraser, Morse, and their supporters 
were at the vanguard of foreign policy change as domestic norms regarding political and 
civil right were changing. 

The same change in norms that prompted the Congress to pass the 1964 Civil 
Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act also allowed the Congress in 1966 to add Title IX 
to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. Title IX provided a legislative directive to the 
U.S. Agency for International Development (US AID) stating that "[i]n carrying out 
programs authorized by this chapter, emphasis shall be placed on assuring maximum 
participation in the task of economic development on the part of the people of developing 
countries, through the encouragement of democratic private and local government 
institutions" (quoted in Carothers 1999, 25) 

Despite the language of Title IX, US AID chose to continue with its prioritization 
of economic development over democracy. According to Thomas Carothers (1999, 26) 
"Title IX went against the grain of deeply held beliefs and well-established practices in the 
U.S. foreign aid bureaucracy." USAID interpreted Title IX as directing them to foster 
greater popular participation in economic development projects, not to promote 
democracy per se. Societal changes, which by 1966 were evident in the Congress, had not 



143 
yet transferred to the executive branch and the bureaucracy. With the election of Richard 

Nixon in 1968, Title IX faded from sight. The realpolitik of Nixon and Kissinger 
advanced a strategy arguing that the external behavior of states and not their internal 
character should be the focus of foreign policy. Efforts to seek detente with the Soviet 
Union and closer ties with China led the Nixon administration to ignore human rights 
violations in those countries. Nevertheless, the Congress had a different agenda. 
Members of Congress thrust human rights issues into the agenda much to the 
consternation of the Nixon and Kissinger. 

Beginning in the early 1970s, Congressman Donald Fraser (D., Minnesota) led an 
assault on U.S. foreign policy and the U.S. stand on human rights from his position on the 
Subcommittee on International Organizations and Movements of the House Committee on 
Foreign Affairs. Fraser relates that "the Vietnam war motivated members of Congress and 
the American public to take a fresh look at the role the United States played in the human 
rights field" (Fraser 1979, 176). In addition to the war in Vietnam, Fraser relates that the 
realization the United States had been actively involved in supporting repressive regimes 
did not sit well with American values. "American foreign policy has to reflect basic 
American values" argued Fraser. Linking the domestic to the international, Fraser 
pronounced that "[i]f our foreign policy is incompatible with the way we treat people here 
at home, it lessens the impact of that example" (Fraser 1979, 182). In testimony before 
the House Subcommittee on International Organization Fraser warned that the United 
States could not be self-righteous about human rights violations given the U.S.'s past 
history of arbitrary detention of Americans of Japanese decent during World War II and 



144 
the legal segregation of schools (see House 1979, 298-317). 

Fraser held multiple hearings on U.S. human rights policy. The 1973 military coup 
and the subsequent mass arrests in Chile sparked a reaction from the U.S. Congress. 
Although the prevention of the ascension to power by Salvador Allende had been a 
priority of U.S. presidents since the Kennedy Administration, by 1973 the mood had 
changed in Congress. Two provisions of Foreign Assistance Act of 1973 dealt with the 
general issue of political prisoners and the particular issue of human rights in Chile. In 
1974, Congress passed a resolution expressing its belief that security assistance be linked 
to human rights concerns. Congress also directed that human rights concerns should be 
linked to development assistance. Congressman Tom Harken (D., Iowa) offered an 
amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 that stipulated that "[n]o assistance 
may be provided ... to the government of any country which engages in a pattern of gross 
violations of international recognized human rights . . ." (quoted in Forsythe 1988, 10). 
This provision was legally binding on the executive. 

On the Senate side of Congress, recently elected members began the push for 
human rights in U.S. foreign policy. James G. Abourezk (R., South Dakota), first elected 
in 1972, introduced an amendment to the Foreign Aid Bill of 1973 that would deny aid to 
any country that violated the human rights of its citizens. The Senate defeated the 
amendment, however, the following year Abourezk introduced the same amendment and 
was joined by Senator Alan Cranston (D., California) 7 with a similar amendment 



7 Cranston was elected to the Senate in 1969 



145 
(Abourezk 1989, 131-132). 8 

Senator Henry Jackson (D., Washington) and Representative Charles Vanik (D , 
Ohio) championed a provision on human rights which caused the Nixon administration 
much discomfort. This provision amended the Trade Act of 1974 and prohibited the 
granting of most-favored-nation-treatment to a nonmarket economy country that denies its 
citizen the right to emigrate. The Jackson- Vanik Amendment was aimed directly at the 
Soviet Union which had placed restrictions on the emigration of Soviet Jews. The 
Jackson Amendment ran counter to the policy of detente as practiced by the Nixon 
Administration which sought to moderate Soviet foreign policy by developing more 
normal relations between the superpowers. Henry Kissinger claims that the Nixon 
Administration was seeking human rights through quiet diplomacy. However, Jackson 
and his supporters demanded that America commitment to human rights be publically 
affirmed. 9 Congress imposed restrictions on loans to the Soviet Union (Kissinger 1994, 
754). 



"The Senate defeated both Abourezk and Cranston's amendments. The amendment 
offered by Tom Harkin in 1974 in the House of Representatives effectively incorporated 
Abourezk and Cranston's position in the final bill. 

'We cannot see the Jackson- Vanik Amendment only in terms public normative 
concerns over human rights. Henry Jackson had presidential ambitions. From a political 
standpoint Jackson sought to build a support from both Labor and Jewish-Americans by 
tying most-favor-nation status for the Soviet Union to the ability for Jews to emigrate 
(Rourke 1983, 268). Henry Kissinger (1994, 747), who characterizes Jackson as "a 
serious student of intentional affairs, especially the Soviet Union," regards Jackson efforts 
as an attempt to scuttle Nixon's pursuit of detente between the Soviet Union and the 
United States. 



146 
The influence of the U.S. Civil Rights movement was also apparent in the many 
Congressional hearings on human rights. A report prepared for the Subcommittee on 
International Organizations acknowledges the domestic level changes on the foreign policy 
of the U.S. 

World War II marked the start of a revolution in the development of new 
approaches to human rights issues. Today, international legal practice accepts the 
protection of human rights as a matter of international concern. The 1969 report 
of the Special Committee of Lawyers for the President's Commission for the 
Observance of Human Rights Year 1968 confirmed the acceptance in the United 
States of human rights as a proper subject of U.S. treaty making. In addition, the 
enactment of substantial civil rights and welfare legislation at the national level has 
nullified the view that human rights are matters exclusively within the purview of 
the State within the U.S. federal system. (House 1977, 1) 

Furthermore, we can see influence on the members of Congress of the American Civil 
Rights movement in one of the early proposals for incorporating human rights in U.S. 
foreign policy. A 1974 subcommittee report, "Human Rights in the World Community: A 
Call for U.S. Leadership," proposed to extend the legal functions of the U.S. Civil Rights 
Commission to include international human rights. The proposal was to have the 
Commission to "observe and comment upon the attention given to human rights by U.S. 
foreign policy, and comment on conditions in other countries" (House 1974, 4). These 
functions would later be picked up by the State Department and private organizations such 
as Freedom House. 

By the end of the Nixon Administration the Congress had made significant strides 
on incorporating human rights into U.S. foreign policy. In 1976, with PL. 94-302 
Congress charged U.S. directors of Inter- American Bank and the African Development 
Fund '"to vote against any loan, any extension of financial assistance, or any technical 



147 
assistance to any country which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of 
internationally recognized human rights . . . unless such assistance will directly benefit the 
needy people in such country" (quoted in Crabb and Holt 1992, 236). The Congress also 
restructured the executive branch by creating a Bureau of Human Rights and 
Humanitarian Affairs within the State Department. With human rights a priority of his 
foreign policy, the newly-elected president Jimmy Carter appointed people with civil rights 
backgrounds to the newly created portions in the Bureau. Carter appointed Patricia 
Derian, founder of the Mississippi Civil Liberties Union, as the first assistant secretary of 
state for human rights and humanitarian affairs (Drezner 2000, 744). 

Although an ally of the new normative trend in U.S. foreign policy, as we have 
seen President Carter was not the originator of the trend. At times Congress still had 
divisions based on ideology. Congress developed a series of specific country prohibitions 
on aid to human rights violators. Donald Fraser relates that conservatives and liberals 
went after each others favorite violator. Conservative members of Congress pushed 
legislation to cut off aid to leftist countries such as Angola, Cambodia, Laos, 
Mozambique, Tanzania, and Vietnam. Liberal members sought to cut aid to rightist 
countries such as Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and the Philippines. Whatever the country's 
position on the ideological spectrum, by the late 1970s a stance against human rights 
violations was a popular one by members of Congress. 

This political position was strong enough that Congress was able to make a stand 
against the newly-elected president Ronald Reagan when he nominated Ernest Lefever to 
the post of assistant secretary for human rights and humanitarian affairs. Congress 



148 
rejected Lefever, who had publically advocated overturing human rights legislation. After 

a brief period of hostility toward human rights, the Reagan Administration began applying 

a human rights criterion to foreign policy, in fact, more consistently than the Carter 

Administration (Hofrenning 1990). Concerning human rights, the Reagan administration 

with its heightened role of anticommunism, began pushing for democracy assistance and 

programs to promote democracy. Many of these programs reflected back to Congressman 

Fraser's Title IX initiative. 

Democracy as a form of government has transformed from a moral prescription to 
a legal obligation. Democracy has emerged as a fundamental right (Franck 1992). The 
battle for democracy and civil rights in the United States readily transferred to a battle for 
democracy abroad. American political leadership regarded democracy not as a right of the 
few, but an emergent universal right. By the second Reagan administration, the American 
government and the preponderance of the American people had rejected "communist state 
socialism" and "modernization" as counter options to democratic governance. 

The doctrine of state socialism argued that the state should control all aspects of 
the economy with all workers functioning as employees of the state. Modernization 
sought to suppress backward tribal and clan relations and suspend imported democratic 
values which Modernizers saw as meaningless to rural and illiterate societies. The goal for 
modernization is nation building and the creation of economies of scale. The Reagan 
administration opposed state socialism. Nevertheless, the Reagan administration 
implemented a policy which ran counter to the modernization perspective and in the 1980s 
pulled support for friendly tyrants in Chile, Haiti, Paraguay, the Philippines and South 



149 
Korea. Thomas Franck makes the following argument. 

Since the middle of the 1980s, both [state socialism] ... and the theory of 
"modernization" have collapsed under the weight of their evident failure. 
Throughout socialist Eastern Europe and in most of the dictatorships of Africa and 
Asia, the people have rejected both theories, together with the espousing 
governments Instead, people almost everywhere now demand that 
government be validated by western-style parliamentary, multiparty democratic 
process. (Franck 1992, 49) 

The Reagan administration promoted this belief in the universality of democracy 
with the support of the Congress. This universal right to democracy coincided with the 
universal acceptance for democratic rights for all groups in the United States. The Voting 
Rights Act of 1970 and the Equal Employment Opportunity Enforcement Act of 1972 
followed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. By the early nineteen eighties, many debates 
continued over issues such as forced busing for school integration and legitimacy of 
affirmative action programs in employment. However, no one argued that groups should 
be democratic rights or equal treatment before the law based on their racial/ethnic 
characteristics. This normative perspective applied to Americans' view of democracy 
abroad. The peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were equally capable of 
developing democratic governing structures as the people of Europe. 

In 1981, President Reagan offered his "Project Democracy" as a form of public 
diplomacy and cultural outreach program on American democracy. During this period, a 
bill that Dante Fascell (D., Florida) had originally introduced in Congress in 1969 gained 
new life. This bill proposed a publicly funded, privately operated foundation to promote 
democracy abroad, which would become the National Endowment for Democracy 
(Carothers 1999, 30). Congress appropriated limited funding for Project Democracy. 









150 
The Reagan administration sought an initial $65 million budget authorization, but many 

members of Congress were uneasy with the strong ideological component in Reagan's 

proposal (Muravich 1992, 207). However, Congress did authorize $18 million for the 

National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has continued in operation since then. 

The Reagan administration did not give up on democracy assistance despite the 

loss of Project Democracy. As part of its foreign aid program, the Reagan administration 

sponsored electoral assistance and judicial reform measures in Latin America. 10 

Democracy promotion was brought within the purview US AID. With the collapse of the 

Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, US AID took its democracy program to other 

regions of the world. Except a brief period from 1995 to 1997, US AID funding for 

democracy assistance has expanded. 11 Thomas Carothers, a longtime witness of U.S. 

democracy assistance, has noted a change in policy from the time when the U.S. 

sponsored anticommunist demonstration elections in the 1950s and 60s. He observers that 

"[djemocracy promotion is now linked to some strategic ideas - such as 'democratic 

peace' theory - but democracy is now very much a foreign policy goal in and of itself, not 

merely a means to or a cover for underlying anticommunist ends" (Carothers 1999, 55). 

Writing in the journal Foreign Affairs . Deputy Secretary of State in the Clinton 

Administration Strobe Talbott clearly connected domestic norms to norms in foreign 



10 USAID and NED sponsored electoral assistance programs in Guatemala and 
Honduras in 1985, Haiti in 1987, Chile in 1988, Paraguay in 1989, and Nicaragua in 1990. 
(See Carothers 1999 for detailed discussions of these projects). 

"Budgeted expenditures for democracy assistance in 1991 amounted to $165.2 
million. In 1999, this figured reached $637.1 million. 



151 
policy. He argued that to "sustain the support of the American Public for international 
leadership, American foreign policy must continue to be based on the nature of our society 
and on our character as a people as well as on our interests as a state" (Talbott 1996, 63). 

While some critics have derided the practice of U.S. foreign policy as social work 
(see Mandelbaum 1996), certain aspects of American foreign policy must be shaped by the 
changes in domestic norms and the growth of tolerance and respect for civil and political 
rights in the U.S. Although disorganized at times, U.S. foreign policy toward the former 
Yugoslavia always focused on multiethnic solutions to the political problems of the region. 
The easy solution would have been to allow the strong to devour the weak. Although this 
was once the policy of the United States in its relations with the indigenous peoples in 
North America, after the vast societal change within the U.S., the American people could 
not tolerate such a policy. As the administration of George W. Bush prepares for the 
rebuilding of Afghanistan, it has already pushed for multiethnic solutions. 

Matching the change in domestic norms regarding women, recent democracy 
programs have factored in empowerment of women in political solutions. In Nepal, 
USAID developed bottom-up programs giving training to rural women in basic legal 
rights and rights advocacy. In Eastern Europe, US aid officials have sought to stimulate 
the greater incorporation of women into political party activities. Similar programs exist 
in Guatemala. Although much more needs to be done to incorporate women in the 
democracy agenda, Thomas Carothers says that "U.S. aid does include a growing number 
of undertakings directly related to women ..." (Carothers 199, 345). After destroying 
the Taliban regime which persecuted women the Bush administration is pushing for the 



152 
inclusion of women in the future government of Afghanistan. 12 We might expect these 
developments given the advances of women in the United States. 

Conclusion 

As the United States entered the 1990s the U.S. Congress systematically began to 
ratify many multilateral conventions on human rights that Senator Bricker and the 
American people of the 1950s so loathed. In 1989, the U.S. ratified the Genocide 
Convention, and three years later the International Convention of Civil Rights. In 1994, 
the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and 
the Convention against Torture received Congressional approval. 13 

Human rights and the promotion of democracy have become normal procedures in 
U.S. foreign policy. As we have seen, the U.S. Congress was in the vanguard of policy 
change. This chapter has shown that the Congress can be very powerful in foreign policy 
it chooses to be. The Congress becomes most active when current policy is out of line 
with public norms on the conduct of policy. Members of Congress reflect the positions of 
their constituents and thus Congressional action most accurately serves as the indicator of 
societal norms. The pattern of normative change, outlined in chapter 2, mirrors the 
changes in foreign policy and congressional action in the realm of human rights and 



12 President Bush has continually emphasized the untoward treatment of women by 
the Taliban regime to rally the American people to fight in Afghanistan. The First Lady, 
Laura Bush, gave a nationally broadcast speech about the cruel treatment of women by the 
Taliban regime. "The fight against terrorism is also a fight for the rights and dignity of 
women" declared the First Lady (Allen 2001, A 14). 

13 The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against 
Women is still pending before the Senate, May 2002. 



153 
democracy. This suggests that domestic norms apply to foreign policy. The late 
Congressman Donald Fraser demanded that foreign policy reflect domestic values. 
Throughout history U.S. foreign policy to a large extent has reflected domestic values. 
When political leaders denied human rights and political rights to certain domestic groups 
based on racial/ethnic characteristics, U.S. foreign policy makers saw no need to extend 
these rights other peoples in the world. Foreign policy matched domestic policy. Only as 
sweeping changes came at the domestic level did we see changes in foreign policy. In the 
next chapter I also discuss two cases, South African sanctions and the Contra aid debates, 
where the President and Congress differed over promoting human rights and the Congress 
actually constrained presidential action. 



CHAPTER 6 
CONGRESS AND FOREIGN POLICY: CONTRA AID AND SOUTH AFRICAN 

SANCTIONS 

Introduction 

This chapter confirms the Congress' role as the primary transmitter of societal 
norms to foreign policy. I discuss two cases occurring after the change in domestic norms 
regarding political and civil rights. These cases include the Contra aid and South African 
sanction debates, where the President and Congress differed over promoting human rights 
and the Congress actually constrained presidential action. The influence of Congress, with 
the changed perception of its members as the proper policy the United States should 
follow, gives the best explanation for the outcome in these cases. The influence of public 
opinion is also a factor in the outcome of these cases. This again is an indicator of the 
changed norms. 

Both of the cases take place in the context of the reinvigorated Cold War. In this 
heightened security environment one would expect a greater deference to the president in 
matters of foreign policy. Moreover, one would expect that security issues would triumph 
over human rights concerns. We do find calls by opponents to the pro-human rights 
position indicating the need for national security considerations to take precedent. In 
Nicaragua, the Sandinista regime clearly positioned itself in the Soviet camp. In the South 
African case, the African National Congress (ANC) has its foundation in Marxist ideology. 



154 



155 
Despite this, members of Congress, from both political parties found the issues of human 
rights consideration to take precedence. 

In both cases, I will discuss the background to the cases including a discussion of 
the security implications. I will then analyze the steps taken by the Congress to restrain 
presidential action and promote the interests of human rights. I will also discuss the 
influence of public opinion in shaping the outcome of each case. Although both cases take 
place in the context of divided government, we cannot assume that congressional actions 
were a purely partisan pretense to embarrass the president. Members of the president's 
own party were active in constraining and redirecting the original course of the executive's 
foreign policy. First, I will examine the Contra aid debate. 

Contra Aid 
The struggle over foreign policy in Central America in the 1980s was the archetype 
of the interbranch rivalry that occurs in American government (Scott 1997). Nevertheless, 
this struggle was more than a struggle for institutional power. Congressional limitation on 
military aid to the Contra rebels seeking to overthrow the Nicaraguan government 
represents one of the first cases in which the Congress redirects an executive out of line 
with the new norms that emerged in the 1970s. 

The Sandinistas came to power in Nicaragua in July 1979 after a brutal war that 
killed more than 50,000 people (Booth and Walker 1993, 68). A key event in the 
Sandinista success came when the Carter administration cut foreign aid, including the 
preventing the delivery of arms to the Nicaraguan government of Anastasio Somoza 
Debayle. Somoza, a long time benefactor of U.S. good will, including an education at 



156 
West Point, had ruled Nicaragua had since 1967 (Skidmore and Smith 1992, 327). ' 

The Carter administration at first welcomed the change in government and the new 

Sandinista regime. The United States sent $8 million in emergency aid and authorized $75 

million in economic aid. Nevertheless, the Marxist ideology of the Sandinistas and the 

arrival of more than 2000 Cubans, including medical, engineering, military, police, and 

intelligence advisors, distressed U.S. officials. In late 1980, the Sandinista government 

decided to provide military support to the Salvadoran rebels. This action provoked the 

Cater administration which suspended all aid to Nicaragua (Roth and Sobel 1993). The 

Reagan administration came to office with a new agenda concerning Nicaragua, to 

overthrow the Sandinista government. This initiates a series of struggles between the 

president and the Congress over aid to the Contras, the military force seeking to 

overthrow the Sandinista government. The struggle included a battle for public opinion. 

The Reagan administration would lose this battle and eventually resort to illegal means to 

supply the Contras. The Congress consistently refused to authorize the use of U.S. 

foreign aid to overthrow a sitting government. 

In the zero-sum context of the Cold War with the focus on security issues, 

Nicaragua represented another country fallen into the enemy's camp. The Cuban presence 

in Nicaragua further exacerbated fears that Nicaragua would be used as a base from which 

to launch further Marxist revolutions. The Reagan administration's worst case scenario 

viewed all the countries of Central America falling under Soviet influence with Mexico 



'The Somoza family had ruled in Nicaragua since 1937 when Anastasio's father, 
Anastasio Somoza Garcia took power. The presidency was transferred to Anastasio's 
older brother Luis in 1956 when an assassin's bullet killed the elder Anastasio. 



157 
eventually succumbing, thus placing the enemy on the border with the United States. 

Ronald Reagan ran on a platform that condemned the Sandinista takeover of Nicaragua 
and pledged to support efforts of the Nicaragua people to establish a free government 
(Scott 1997, 239). Beginning in March of 1981, the Reagan administration developed a 
plan to support domestic opposition groups in Nicaragua. By mid- 1982, U.S. covert 
support had transformed the Contras into a well-equipped army of 4,000 (LeoGrande 
1993, 30). Congressional endorsement for the covert aid came with the condition that the 
operation would be limited to the interdiction of Sandinista arms going to guerrillas 
fighting the government of El Salvador. In December 1982, the Congress allowed for 
covert aid to the Contras, but stipulated that aid could not be used to overthrow the 
Nicaraguan government. 

As the evidence mounted that the Reagan administration's goal was indeed to 
overthrow the Sandinista government, support for aid to the Contras declined in the 
Congress. In 1984, when the CIA mined Nicaraguan harbors without congressional 
consultation and in defiance of congressional restrictions, support for Contra aid 
diminished. The CIA's actions incensed members of the president's political party. The 
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, Barry Goldwater (R. Arizona) called the CIA's 
actions a violation of international law and act of war (Scott 1997, 248). Both the House 
and the Senate passed resolutions condemning the mining of Nicaraguan harbors. 
Moreover, in May 1984 the House passed a bill suspending aid to the Contras. The 



158 
Senate, after much political negotiation, accepted the ban. 2 The Contras were kept 

solvent through funds from third party countries and private donors co-ordinated by 

National Security Council staff member Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North. 3 North's illegal 

activities would later erupt into the Iran-Contra scandal. 

After his reelection for a second term of office, President Reagan worked 

assiduously to win Congressional funding for the Contras. The administration sought to 

rejuvenate the Contra image by portraying them as "freedom fighters" and the equivalent 

of the U.S.'s own "founding fathers." Attempts to portray Nicaragua as a battlefield in the 

Cold War was buttressed by the actions of Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega. In April 

1985, Ortega visited Moscow substantiating the Reagan administration's view of the 

Sandinistas. Congress passed an aid proposal for $27 million in nonlethal aid for the 

Contras. Nevertheless, the Congress tried to direct the use of the aid for a political 

solution to the problem. Congress prohibited CIA or Defense Department involvement in 

the distribution of aid (Scott 1997, 250). In 1986, the Reagan administration sought to 

restore Contra aid with a request for $100 million in military and support aid to be 

administered by the CIA. However, in testimony before the Senate, Secretary of State 

George Schultz had to couch his argument justifying support for Contra aid as giving the 

"Sandinistas an incentive to negotiate seriously ..." (Schultz 1986, 39). After much 



2 Members of the Senate accepted the ban in order save a popular summer jobs bill 
which was attached to the ban on Contra aid. 

3 In total third parties gave the Contras about $54 million with Saudi Arabia 
providing $32 million of the sum in a series of donations (see Stobel 1995 for a complete 
breakdown on funding sources and suppliers.) 



159 
acrimonious debate and many defeated proposals for aid, the Congress passed an aid 

package for the Contras. The cross border raid by the Sandinistas into Honduras to attack 

Contra military camps was pivotal in swaying Congress to support the administration's 

position. Reagan's victory was short lived with the capture of the CIA contract worker 

Eugene Hasenfus by the Sandinistas. The capture of Hasenfus led to the revelation of the 

secret assistance provided by the White House during the congressional ban on aid. 4 

Despite his reputation as the "great communicator," President Reagan could never 
convince the American public that the U.S. should overthrow the Sandinista government. 
Congressional initiatives to counter the president reflected the sentiments of the American 
public. The rhetoric of the Cold War and the security arguments expounded by the 
Reagan administration did little to convince the public that they should overthrow the 
government of Nicaragua. An ABC/WP poll which asked "Should the United States be 
involved in trying to overthrow the government of Nicaragua, or not?" consistently found 
the American public responding negatively. Those responding "no" never dropped below 
62 percent from 1983 to 1987 (Sobel 1993, 62). 

Notwithstanding Reagan's efforts to portray them as "freedom fighters," the 
Contras maintained a tainted image and were associated with Somoza's National Guard. 
Energized by human rights issues, many church groups organized against the Reagan 
administration's policies. These included Baptists, Lutherans, Methodist, Presbyterians, 



'Congress provided $100 million in aid ($70 million in military and $30 million in 
humanitarian aid) to the Contras. This was the last time that Congress authorized military 
aid for the Contras Limited funding in humanitarian and nonlethal aid was provided in 
1987 and 1988. 



160 
Mennonites, Unitarians, and numerous Catholic orders, bishops and national 

organizations. Civil rights and humanitarian organization like the American Civil Liberty 

Union, Common Cause, and OXFAM America sought to organize constituents and 

lobbied Congress against Contra aid (Arnson and Brenner 1993, 195-197). The 

mobilizations of these human rights groups and their ability to cast the argument in terms 

of human rights helped shape the debate over Contra aid. If it were not for the actions of 

the Sandinista government with the state visit to Moscow and the cross border incursion 

into Honduras, the Reagan administration would not have won the aid victories that it did. 

Moreover, we must also consider that the administration violated legal statutes with its 

clandestine program to fund the Contras. The lobbying activities of human rights groups 

against Contra aid forced the Reagan administration to assert that Contra aid supported 

human rights. Falling dominos heading to the Texas border could not provide the 

rationalization for Contra aid. The Reagan administration developed a litany of human 

rights offensives by the Sandinistas which included doing away with human rights 

generally, committing genocide against the Miskito Indians, and driving the Jewish 

community into exile with antisemitic pogroms (LeoGrande 1993, 44). 

In the milieu of changed domestic norms, the Reagan administration had a difficult 

time conducting a policy of intervention in the affairs of a country within the U.S. sphere 

of influence. Prior to the normative change, this avenue of policy would have been largely 

uncontroversial. The prospect of another Vietnam-like quagmire restrained U.S. action. 

Nevertheless, public opinion never demonstrated any will to overthrow the Sandinista 

government. Despite the expenditure of large amounts of political capital with addresses 



161 
to Congress and the American people, Reagan could never reconfigure public opinion. 5 
In the next section, I examine a second case which clearly shows the influence of the 
changed domestic normative structure and the role of Congress as transmitter of norms 
over the executive, the case of South African sanctions. 

South African Sanctions 

The enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 
were a monumental first step toward pushing the United States toward racial justice. The 
Voting Rights Act with its enfranchisement of southern blacks did much to increase the 
policy influence of African- Americans in the United States. In a ten-year period between 
1970 and 1980 the number of black elected officials more than tripled (Clark 1993, 17). 6 
Black members of Congress formed the Congressional Black Caucus in 1971 to 
coordinated its members' efforts on not only domestic issues, but also on issues of foreign 
policy, particularly the of issue of apartheid. 

Apartheid, an Afrikaans word for "separateness," is the name that South Africa's 
white government gave to its policy of discrimination against the country's nonwhite 
majority. In 1948, the Afrikaner National Party came to power in South Africa and legally 
enshrined the longstanding practice of racial discrimination. Domestic opposition to the 



President Reagan conducted an extensive public campaign for Contra aid. During 
the peak of the early Contra debate from February to June 1985, Reagan made four 
separate radio speeches on Nicaragua and one about Nicaragua and the federal budget, 
(see Storrs and Serafino 1993). 

6 In 1970, there were 1469 black elected officials; in 1980 there were 4912. 



162 
Afrikaner government periodically erupted with some demonstrations turning bloody. 6 
Initially, the United States viewed the South African government not as a moral 
degenerate, but as a resource rich ally in the Cold War. According to Audie Klotz (1995, 
455), "U.S. policy makers generally considered South Africa's ruling whites, who shared 
their concern about communist expansion, as natural allies for maintaining stability within 
South Africa." Policy makers changed this support for the South African government as 
the domestic norms regarding political and civil rights changed in the United States. As 
early as 1962, Dr. Martin Luther King called for the imposition of international sanctions 
against South Africa (Magubane 1987, 216). 7 The struggle for civil rights in the United 
States was a naturally associated with the movement against apartheid in South Africa. 

The anti-apartheid movement has always been closely connected to the civil rights 
struggle. Many of the early leaders of the anti-apartheid movement participated 
in desegregation, and even those who were not actively involved were inspired by 
the civil rights struggle. (Metz 1986, 382). 

African- American members of Congress exerted influence concerning the issue of 
sanctions against the apartheid regime of South Africa. The presence of African- 
Americans in the Congress was a direct result of the civil rights movement. In 1969, 
Charles Diggs (D., Michigan) became the first African- American chair of the House 
Subcommittee on Africa (Culverson 1996, 134). Expanding black participation in the 
electorate increased black congressional representation. In 1971, thirteen black members 



6 In 1960, a wave of anti-apartheid protests climaxed with the Sharpesville 
massacre in which 69 protestors were killed by the police. The African National Congress 
(ANC) was banned and two years later its leader Nelson Mandela was jailed. 

7 In 1963, during the Kennedy Administration, the U.S. imposed an arms embargo 
on South Africa. 



163 
of the Houses formed the Congressional Black Caucus. According to Ronald Dellums 
(D., California): 

Most relationships between legislative colleagues, as important as they are, remain 
informal and largely centered on friendship or mutual respect. In 1971, the 
thirteen black members of the House decided to make our particular relationship 
more formal. Bound together by race ~ and the experience of race in America - 
we believed that we needed to work with each other [sic] to more forcefully 
advance our common agenda, and we announced the birth of the Congressional 
Black Caucus, know as the CBC. (Dellums 2000, 94). 

One of the CBC's first actions in U.S. foreign policy toward South Africa came 
when representatives of the CBC met with workers of a U.S. based camera and film 
company, Polaroid. Polaroid workers had demanded an end to their company's sales of 
photographic equipment to the South African government. Polaroid cameras were used to 
take the photographs for the controversial pass books utilized for the control and 
oppression of millions of black South Africans (Dellums 2000, 123). Thus, began a 
program with members of Congress, workers, activists, church groups and progressive 
companies to divest economic interests with South Africa. The Sullivan principles, 
propagated by the Reverend Leon Sullivan, attempted an alternative path to divestment 
and sought to compel U.S. enterprises doing business in South Africa to adopt a code of 
conduct very similar to the principles advance during the U.S. civil rights struggle. 
According to Dellums (2000, 124), companies "signing on to abide by the principle would 
agree to end work place segregation, adopt fair employment practices, pay equal wages 
for similar work, provide job training and advancement opportunities, and set out to 
improve the squalid conditions in which workers lived often separated from their families 



164 
because of the pass laws." 8 

President Carter underscored the need to incorporate African- Americans in the 
foreign policy process, particularly regarding South Africa. Carter appointed the civil 
rights activist Andrew Young to be the ambassador to the United Nations. Under Carter, 
the United States joined in the UN arms embargo and in 1978 the U.S. barred export to 
South African military, policy, or apartheid enforcing agencies of the South African 
government. Nevertheless, Congress and activist continued to push the executive on 
tougher policies toward the South Africa. In 1977, Trans Africa was formed as a 
permanent foreign policy organization designed to pressure U.S. foreign policy on issues 
of concern to African- Americans (Culverson 1996, 141). 

The consensus in the United States was that the system of apartheid in South 
Africa was morally repugnant. The overall normative change with the American public's 
belief in racial equality undergirded increasing support for sanctions against South Africa 
(see Hill 1993). However, President Reagan's election to office brought a different 
orientation toward South Africa. The U.S. Congress, with popular support, would 
dramatically overturn Reagan's policy. 

President Reagan adopted a policy called "constructive engagement." 
Constructive engagement was the brain child of Undersecretary of State, Chester Crocker. 
Crocker believed that the United States should stop excoriating the South African 
government and instead establish friendly relations with the white Afrikaner government 



"Some in the anti-apartheid movement criticized the Sullivan principles as 
insufficient and argued for complete corporate withdraw. 



165 
and use quiet diplomacy to influence change. The Reagan policy did not have success in 
ending apartheid. The South African government did not understand the extent of 
disapproval in the U.S. of apartheid and interpreted the U.S. policy of "constructive 
engagement" as tacit approval (Lugar 1988, 209). Moreover, many domestic observers 
perceived Reagan's policy as blatantly supporting white-minority government. 

Despite his landside victory in 1984, Reagan's policy toward South Africa came 
under direct attack. New waves of protest in South Africa were met by violence from the 
South African government. The violence in South Africa sparked protest in the U.S. with 
the first major demonstration at the South African embassy coming on Thanksgiving day 
1984. These protest were organized by TransAfrica's Randall Robinson. The 
Congressional Black Caucus moved the issue of South Africa to the top of their agenda 
(Dellums 2000, 126-127). 

The Congressional Black Caucus's influence in setting the agenda on South Africa 
was noteworthy. By 1985, many of its members had gained seniority and leadership 
positions in the Congress. However, public concern over the issue of apartheid also 
transformed the policy position of others in the Congress, including members of the 
president's own party. "Rising public concern over apartheid as an issue that could trigger 
domestic racial conflict even led many Republicans and conservative Democrats to 
distance themselves from and openly criticize the president's policy" (Culverson 1996, 
144-145). In late 1984, 35 House Republicans publically criticized the president's policy 
on South Africa and signed an open letter to the South Africa ambassador threatening to 
impose sanctions unless certain economic and civil rights were put in place for all people 



166 
in South Africa. These "young turk" Republicans included Robert S. Walker (R., 

Pennsylvania), Vin Weber (R., Minnesota) and the future Speaker of the House Newt 
Gingrich (R., Georgia). 

Recognizing a change in the United States, Congressman Vin Weber (R. 
Pennsylvania) warned the South African government that they could no longer rely on the 
support of conservatives as racists. Weber declared that "South Africa has been able to 
depend on conservatives in the United States ... to treat them with benign neglect." He 
continued that "[W]e served notice that with the emerging generation of conservative 
leadership, that is not going to be the case" (Evans and Cannon 1984, Al). Newt 
Gingrich (R., Georgia), another of the Republicans advancing the idea of sanctions against 
South Africa clearly understood the normative changes within the U.S. regarding political 
and civil rights. When asked if his party was using the issue of sanction against South 
Africa as a way to get more African-American votes, Gingrich replied that "I think one of 
the great challenges to the Republican Party for the rest of the decade is to prove 
unequivocally that it is opposed to racism ..." Although Gingrich did not expect to 
"convert black voters" to the Republican Party, he wanted "to maintain independent- 
minded white constituencies" because as he saw it "[m]ost of the white middle class and 
most of the younger generation are opposed to racism of any kind." He further added that 
"[t]here's a broad consensus for individual freedom without regard to race" (Shogan 1985, 
1). 

Throughout the spring of 1985, both the Senate and the House conducted hearings 
to discuss U.S. policy toward South Africa. In context of the Cold War, opponents of 



167 
sanctions against South Africa, such as Senator Jesse Helms (R, North Carolina) argued 
that sanctions could jeopardize the U.S. alliance with South Africa. This could cause the 
forfeit of access to valuable minerals and open the door for communist inroads to southern 
Africa. The White-minority government was a bulwark against communism, while the 
African National Congress (ANC), the lead group opposing white rule clearly contained 
many individuals with Marxist inclinations. 

In 1985, the House passed sanctions legislation by a vote of 295 to 127 with the 
support of fifty-six Republicans (Klotz 1995, 473). In the Senate, Richard Lugar (R, 
Indiana) sought to overcome delaying tactics of Senator Helms. According to Lugar 

We succeeded in one long and contentious day of debate on July 1 1, 1985, in 
gaining an 80-12 vote for final passage. A few conservative Republicans simply 
did not want any legislation but found it difficult to oppose a bill which encouraged 
American business to maintain and to increase a hands-on relationship in South 
Africa. Our bill imposed sanctions that were real for the first time, and sent 
significant messages to the South African government and to other nations (Lugar 
1988, 218) 

The Reagan Administration responded to the actions of the House and Senate by issuing 
an executive order placing restrictions on government loans, military and police 
equipment, computers and nuclear related technologies. Moreover, the executive order 
encouraged corporations to follow principles similar to those expounded by the Reverend 
Sullivan. 

The President's executive order temporary arrested efforts by the Congress to 
impose tougher sanctions on South Africa. The South African government continued its 
suppression of black dissent with 875 lives lost in 1985 and a doubling of that casualty 



168 
rate in 1986 (Lugar 1988, 223). On June 12, 1986, the South African government 

imposed a nationwide state of emergency. The House passed a new bill calling for more 
extensive sanctions in May 1986. The Senate followed suit. House leaders agreed to 
bypass conference committee negotiation and accept the Senate bill based on Senator 
Lugar's commitment to by the bill even if faced with a presidential veto. As expected 
President Reagan vetoed the bill. For the first time since 1973, the U.S. Congress 
overrode a presidential veto on a foreign policy issues. The House overrode the veto 313- 
83 with 81 Republicans voting to override (Lugar 1988, 238). In the Senate 78 members 
stood against the President. The overriding of the President's veto reflected the public 
opinion on the issues. A Gallup poll taken in September of 1986, asked: "Do you think 
that the South African government has or has not made significant progress during the last 
year in trying to resolve it racial problems?" Seventy-two percent responded that the 
South African government "has not" made progress. In the same poll fifty-five percent 
indicated that the United State should put more pressure on the South African government 
to end its apartheid racial system. 

Conclusion 
Both cases show the increased concern for the promotion of human rights and 
democracy by the United States. The U.S. public consistently opposed the violent 
overthrow of the Sandinista government. Eventually, the Sandinistas would be removed 
through democratic elections with the opposition receiving support from the United 
States. Reagan had insisted that the Sandinistas would never follow through on elections 
if the Congress did not provide the Contras military assistance. After his election in 1988, 



169 
George Bush decided to find a common policy on Nicaragua with the Congress which 
ended in a commitment to support the planned elections in Nicaragua. The peaceful 
resolution to the Nicaragua civil war with a democratic outcome represented the will of 
the Congress and by extension the norms of the American public. 

In South Africa, President Reagan could not sustain support for a racist 
government in the new normative environment regarding political and civil rights in the 
United States. The weak efforts of "constructive engagement" by the Reagan 
administration sought to change the South Africa's system of apartheid while not 
endangering US/South African relations. Nevertheless, in the new normative 
environment in the United States the distance between South African apartheid norms and 
U.S. norms were so great as to compel members of the president's own party to break 
with his policy stance. One must recall that the "Jim Crow" laws of segregation in the 
American south before the 1970s were akin to South Africa's system of apartheid. It is 
significant that Newt Gingrich, a Republican representing a southern state would be one of 
the leaders against the president's policy. Reactionaries like Senator Jesse Helms could 
not withstand the onslaught of change that permeated the Congress. Moreover, 
overriding a presidential veto is a monumental event. Support that cut across party lines 
for a U.S. foreign policy that placed sanctions against South Africa demonstrates 
Congress as the more effective transmitter of societal norms than the executive. 
Regarding sanctions against South Africa, the Congress and not the President reflected the 
position of the American people. 



CHAPTER 7 
SUMMARY OF FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION 

We can understand the change in U.S. foreign policy toward democracy promotion 
by understanding the change in the domestic normative structure. A state's domestic 
norms influence its international behavior. When the United States embraced a Euro- 
American identity and maintained a normative structure that allowed the negation of 
political and civil rights for those that did not match that identity, U.S. foreign policy did 
not promote democracy or human rights, particularly in the non Western/European world. 
Domestic level factors are important to understand a state's foreign policy. The findings 
of this study concur with the appeals of Bruce Bueno de Mesquita (2002, 1) who has 
suggested "the urgency of refocusing our efforts on leaders and domestic affairs as the 
centerpiece for understanding the world of international relations." We better understand 
the change in U.S. foreign policy toward democracy promotion and human rights when we 
consider the context of changing domestic norms regarding political and civil rights. 

As we have seen, the expansion U.S. democracy and political and civil rights to 
groups once excluded from the political process, witnessed a concurrent expansion of 
human rights and democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy to parts of the world once 
considered incapable of maintaining any form of democratic governance. The changes in 
domestic norms in the post World War II era, have led to a change in the American 
identity from a White, Euro-American identity to a multicultural identity. This change in 

170 



171 
identity has altered the pattern of U.S. foreign policy in many parts of the world. The 
U.S. foreign policy orientation toward democracy promotion differs when it had a Euro- 
American identity as opposed to a multicultural identity. With a Euro-American identity 
only other states with a similar identity were considered capable of respecting human 
rights and developing democratic governing structures. As the American identity 
changed, the applicability of human rights and democracy to other societies became 
pervasive in U.S. foreign policy. 

This study is important for many reasons. First, given U.S. hegemony in world 
affairs, its foreign policy behavior matters a great deal for everyone on the planet. 
Understanding the sources of U.S. foreign policy can help us understand the broader 
trends in world affairs. Second, for American citizens understanding how changes in 
domestic norms have influenced the direction of U.S. foreign policy punctuates the impact 
that they contribute to development of U.S. foreign policy. Norms of behavior that direct 
domestic affairs also influence foreign affairs. 

Theoretically, this study has advanced a constructivist approach to understanding 
U.S. foreign policy. Constructivism focuses on the impact of ideas rather than material 
forces on policy outcomes. Constructivism seeks to understand the formation of state's 
interests and identity as molded by norms and culture rather than material conditions. 
What I have attempted to do in this study is support the constructivist position of a state's 
identity, which suggests that a state's identity is socially constructed and subject to 
change. Changes at the domestic level produce changes in a state's identity. The 
assumption is that humans are not creatures of constant behavior. We learn, we adapt, we 



172 
evolve. 

The analytic model for this study suggested that changes in foreign policy 
orientation are associated with changes in the domestic normative structure. Norms that 
guide behavior on the domestic level also guide behavior in foreign policy. The catalyst 
for change on the domestic level is through social movements organized to change specific 
societal norms. The explanation of the formation of social movements was beyond the 
scope of this study. The model also suggested that policy change would originate from 
the legislative branch. The argument is that legislative branch is closer to the people and 
would be more sensitive to domestic change. My study found this to be a valid claim. 
However, this does not mean that the legislative branch is always more progressive than 
the executive. As I showed, the executive branch quickly adapted to the domestic changes 
and supported a foreign policy consistent with the change in domestic norms. 

What makes this study important is also the contrasting stand it takes to the 
traditional approach to understanding foreign policy. The central paradigm in the study of 
international affairs for the last fifty years, Classical realism, treats a state's identity as a 
constant. It also attributes consistency to human behavior. The assumption is that 
humans are selfish and power seeking creatures. From this perspective we can understand 
state behavior based on a power seeking behavior and single-minded pursuit of self- 
preservation. Neorealism, the systemic variant of realism, enshrines this view of state 
identity in its theoretical structure. The neoliberal response challenges neorealism on its 
own grounds and seeks to explain state behavior through the construction of incentives. 
In the contemporary debate between neorealism and neoliberalism scholars have agreed on 



173 
much so as to give the appearance of scientific progress in theoretical development (see 
Baldwin 1993). Nevertheless, as Alexander Wendt astutely points out about the 
neorealist/neoliberal debate, it "seems to come down to no more than a discussion about 
the frequency with which states pursue relative rather than absolute gains" (Wendt 1999, 
3). Both theoretical approaches follow a rational/materialist orientation. 

In contrast to these recent systemic level debates in International Relations, I have 
tried to show the importance of domestic level factors in understanding state behavior. As 
shown in chapter 2, a focus on domestic level factors has deep roots in the study of 
international affairs. Nevertheless, this is an area that has received little investigation in 
recent decades in the discipline of International Relations. Students of International 
Relations have conducted the neorealism/neoliberalism debate exclusively at the systemic 
level. 

I have not dismissed systemic level factors. The system does constrain the options 
that a state has available, nevertheless, choice remains. What choice a state accepts relates 
to its identity. How decision makers perceive themselves as members of a particular state 
and the norms of behavior that guide their actions are important factors in the selection of 
choices. Societal norms of behavior shape the construction of a state's identity. 

The findings in this study have implications for the democratic peace, the well- 
known claim that democratic states do not fight wars against one another. Domestic 
norms are the most important part of the explanation of the democratic peace. 9 As I 



'For an argument supporting the institutional variant of the democratic peace see 
Bueno de Mesquita, et al., 1999. 



174 
discussed in chapter 2, most scholars researching the democratic peace have treated 

domestic norms as a constant. Clearly, the findings in this study suggest that we must 

understand norms within a historical context. Ido Oren (1995) suggests that the 

democratic peace is subjective, and that the United States continually redefines its 

definition of democracy to keep its self-image consistent with its allies and inconsistent 

with the image of its adversaries. The findings of my study suggest that we must 

understand how a state's changing self-image produces changes in its foreign policy. 

What I have sought to do is to suggest that the norms held by a society are 

important for public policy, including foreign policy. In the era of globalization, many 

students of international affairs speak of intermestic issues, i.e., issues which have both 

international and domestic content. This study contends that many responses to foreign 

policy issues are reflections of the domestic society. What decision makers consider 

correct behavior will influence the construction of foreign policy. This study is limited to 

one foreign policy issue (the promotion of democracy) and changes on a specific domestic 

normative belief (political and civil rights). As the U.S. domestic society has become more 

tolerant of diversity and has expanded political and civil rights to more members of 

society, we find an associated change in the foreign policy orientation toward the 

promotion of democracy to more societies abroad. As I discussed earlier, most of the 

literature on democracy promotion suggests it to be a long-standing U.S. policy. The 

findings in this study discredit that claim. The evidence shows that in the decades before 

the 1970s, the United States clearly subverted democracy and rewarded those who abused 

human rights. William Robinson's (1996) Promoting Polyarchy does recognize that 



175 
democracy promotion is a recent phenomenon in U.S. foreign policy. However, 

Robinson's work places no importance on domestic level factors. Instead, Robinson 

suggests that democracy promotion is a product of a globalized transnational elite seeking 

to limit greater calls for participation through the promotion of low-intensity democracy. 

Although, this study does not directly overturn Robinson's thesis, it does call into question 

the singular emphasis on a transnational elite as the source of policy change. Domestic 

change must be considered. 

In chapter 3, I discussed the importance of norms, which are culturally defined 

rules of correct behavior. The role of norms makes humans a distinct subject of study and 

any attempt to understand and explain human behavior must take into account the 

normative aspects of human life. This study links a state's identity to the norms of 

behavior which governs the individual members that constitute the state. The construction 

of the U.S. identity has changed through the years. In chapter 3, I attempted to provide 

evidence of a change in norms and a change identity. 

In a broad sweep of U.S. history, I reviewed the evolution of the American 

identity from the Anglo-Saxon variant to the Euro-American form, to the current 

multicultural identity. The third change in the U.S. identity was the one of concern for the 

foreign policy question of democracy promotion. My theoretical model suggested that 

change occurred due to the actions of social movements organized around issues of 

political and civil rights. The cause for change was found in the domestic social moments. 

These movements have facilitated not only legal changes, but societal normative changes 

in tolerance and respect for diversity. I illustrated this through an exploration of broad 



176 
cultural changes and through survey data which suggested that since the end of World 

War II, Americans have become less likely to base political decisions on factors of race or 
gender. The use of the survey data provides striking evidence to support the thesis that 
norms regarding political and civil rights changed in the 1970s. In the early 1970s, those 
who said that they would support a qualified black candidate from their political party rose 
above the 60 percent level. By the late 1970s, this percentage approached the 80 percent 
mark. 10 Similarly, changes were found in the support level for women as presidential 
candidates. I used the survey data as empirical indicators for the changing domestic 
norms. A shared norm that someone other than a non white male could serve as President 
of the United States suggests a broader change in the norm of who is worthy of 
participating in a democratic society. Clearly, white America is no longer "the America" 
and the U.S. identity has been opened up to people of various racial/ethnic origins. The 
survey data and the contextual evidence suggest that this change occurred sometime in the 
1970s. The extensive social protest movements of the 1950s and 1960s stand as a catalyst 
of that change. 

Certain behaviors once regarded as proper are not allowed. Certain actions once 
inconceivable are now essential. Although I can never show direct cause between the 
change in domestic norms and the change in foreign policy, amply evidence exists to 
suggest that we can connect the two changes. Many have observed a change in the 



10 According to Thomas W. Graham (1994) when public opinion reaches 60 
percent, it is enough to overcome entrenched bureaucratic opposition. When 79 percent 
of the American people are of one mind, the influence of public opinion will be nearly 
automatic. 



177 
American society around the 1970s, although not all have applauded the change. Groups 
once considered outside the American identity have now been incorporated and extended 
political and civil rights. Acts of intolerance remain, and bigotry and prejudice exist in all 
groups in the United States. Nevertheless, the U.S. society is vastly more accepting of 
diversity today. 

To what extent has U.S. foreign policy changed? In chapter 4, 1 illustrated some 
of those changes. In chapter 4, 1 reviewed the existing research on the linkage between 
human rights and U.S. foreign aid. The promotion of human rights is a necessary 
component to the promotion of democracy. Although debate continues as to what extent 
the U.S. links its foreign aid with human rights, there is evidence that a state's position on 
human rights does influence the level of aid it receives. 11 What is striking for the thesis of 
this study is that no dispute exists among scholars whether the U.S. linked aid to human 
rights before the 1970s. The answer is resoundingly no. We can account for this foreign 
policy change through an examination of the domestic norms. Why would one expect the 
U.S. foreign policy to promote human rights in the non White developing world when the 
normative structure systematically denied human rights for non White Americans? The 
normative structure that allowed segregation allowed the negation of human rights in the 
developing world. 



u Many large N quantitative studies on foreign aid and human rights remove the 
two largest aid recipients from the calculations. Forty percent of U.S. foreign aid goes to 
Israel and Egypt. Egypt's record on human rights is abysmal. Israel, the only democracy 
in the middle east, has been slowly losing its democratic nature as it seeks to suppress the 
Palestinian uprisings in the occupied territories. U.S. foreign aid can be used for many 
purposes. In the case of Egypt and Israel, the $5. 1 billion that the U.S. sends to these two 
countries is a way to maintain peace between these former belligerent states. 



178 
Making direct links to changes in domestic norms to norms in foreign policy is 
difficult. In chapter 5, 1 tried to make this connection. In the United States, the transfer 
of domestic norms from the civil society to public policy is most clearly evidenced through 
the actions of Congress. We saw a sharp contrast in Congressional policy development to 
the promotion of democracy and human rights in the pre and post normative period. In 
the 1950s, Congress though the Bricker Amendment pushed to keep the U.S. from 
supporting human rights internationally. By the 1970s, Congress was on the forefront of 
policy change through the linkage of human rights to foreign aid. Moreover, the notion of 
promoting democracy in U.S. foreign policy originated with the U.S. Congress. President 
Carter grasped the Congressional initiative and made human rights a central focus of his 
foreign policy. Although he did not embrace human rights with the rhetorical clarity that 
Carter made, President Reagan did not remove human rights from the foreign policy 
agenda. However, Reagan embraced the democracy promotion agenda that first 
originated in the Congress. 

One way to prove that U.S. norms have changed regarding the promotion of 
democracy and human rights would be to ask the American people directly. Pollsters have 
undertaken such surveys, however, not until 1974, was the first one conducted. The 
absence of survey questions before the period of normative change that I have identified 
supports my contention that the American normative structure did not place importance 
on promoting human rights or democracy. Most Americans did not think that democracy 
and human rights were compatible with non Western societies. The normative structure 
did not support such a notion, much as Gallup did not ask the American people if they 



179 
would support an African-American candidate for president before 1958. Supporting an 

African- American as the leader of the United States was not correct or proper behavior. 

Survey data questioning whether the U.S. should promote human rights and 
democracy does exist for post normative period of change. Only since 1974, has the 
Chicago Council on Foreign Relations (CCFR) asked survey question regarding 
democracy promotion and only since 1978, for the promotion and defense of human 
rights. Ole Holsti (2000), using this data has tried to show that the American people no 
longer care much about promoting or defending human rights. In 1978, 39 percent of 
those surveyed rated promoting and defending human rights in other countries as "very 
important" goal in U.S. foreign policy. At the end of the Cold War this number increased 
to 58 percent. However, in 1994 this number dropped to 34 percent, leading Holsti to 
declare that "the post-cold war period has witnessed a precipitous decline in the priority 
accorded to human rights in American foreign policy" (Holsti 2000, 160). Holsti 
overstates his position. In 1996, those who said that they considered promoting and 
defending human rights in other countries as "very important" goal in U.S. foreign policy 
increased to 39 percent. Moreover, Holsti fails to note that throughout the period a very 
small minority said that human rights were not an important foreign policy goal 12 In a 
1995, PIPA survey, 67 percent agreed that foreign aid to newly democratic countries is a 
good investment for the United States and that democracies have better human rights 
records. 



12 See http://www.americans-world.org. Accessed on February 19, 2002 



180 
In chapter 6, 1 made a further connection between the change in domestic norms 
and foreign policy through the examination of South African sanctions and Contra aid. In 
both cases Congress opposed and redirected the executive's policies in a direction that 
supported human rights and promoted democracy. Moreover, the Congress acted in 
response to organized domestic interests and reflected the position of public opinion. 

Although my research has shown a general tend in the expansion of democracy 
promotion by the United States, the United States has not displayed this trend with equal 
vigor to all regions of the world. U.S. foreign policy toward the promotion of democracy 
in the Muslim world has been flaccid. Instead, U.S. policy has supported repressive 
regimes (Saudi Arabia) and remained mute when democracy is subverted (Algeria, 
Turkey). The Muslim world lacks any vibrant democratic regime. I have argued that a 
growth of tolerance and an expansion of the American identity has lead to foreign policy 
changes that have expanded the group of peoples judged capable of maintaining 
democratic governments. Future research should investigate how domestic U.S. 
perceptions of the Islamic religion shape U.S. policymakers' attitudes toward democracy 
in the Muslim world. The events of 1 1 September have dramatically reoriented the foreign 
policy of the United States. To what extent have these acts changed the focus of U.S. 
foreign policy regarding democracy in Islamic countries? One way to understand how the 
United States will respond is to understand the domestic level factors. 

Of course, external factors to a state are important in shaping that state's foreign 
policy. In international affairs security issues often take precedence over all other issues. 
Nevertheless, this study has suggested that domestic level facts are also important. Not all 



181 
states will respond identically to the same external stimulants. Moreover, the same state 
can change internally and thus change its foreign policy responses. When we seek to 
understand state behavior, we must understand the norms held by the citizens of that state. 



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207 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 

Thomas Nisley completed his undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport 
College in Newport News, Virginia. After graduating with departmental honors in 
Criminal Justice Administration, Thomas joined the United States Peace Corps. He served 
as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from 1989 to 1991 . Assigned to a 
small rural village called Vallejuelo, he worked in reforestation projects with the 
Dominican Secretary of Agriculture, developed a demonstration vegetable garden 
program, and organized a community youth group that conducted community 
improvement projects. 

Following his Peace Corps service, he entered graduate studies at Old Dominion 
University where he earned an MA. in International Studies in 1993. After teaching for a 
year as a substitute High School Spanish teacher, Thomas accepted a position at his alma 
mater, Christopher Newport. He held the position of Instructor in Government and Public 

Affairs from 1994 to 1996. 

■ 

In 1996, Thomas Nisley began his doctoral studies in political science at the 
University of Florida. His primary field of study is International Relations and his 
secondary field is American Government. He has presented papers at many academic 
conferences and has published an article in the Political Chronicle. 



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to 
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 




4-<2^isW' 



M. Lea^n Brown, Chair 

Associate Professor of Political Science 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to 
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 




Ido Ofen 

Assistant Professor of Political Science 

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to 
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



i_.W n 



Terry McCoy 

Professor of Latin American Studies and 

Political Science 



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to 
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



'fyscA^J U*v^V 



Richard Conley 

Assistant Professor of Political Science 



I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to 
acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, 
as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 



iyanjf^L^ 



Robert McMahon 
Professor of History 



This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Department of 
Political Science in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and to the Graduate School 
and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of 
Philosophy. 



August 2002 



Dean, Graduate School 




,^w 



UNIVERSITY OF FL0F ? l . l j}* | 

3 1262 08557 1866